BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 18:17 GMT
Business happy at low-key Budget
Fuel pump
The 2p increase has been delayed until October
Business groups have generally welcomed the Budget, with both the CBI and Federation of Small Businesses thankful there were "no nasty surprises".

The highlight of the Budget for most business organisations was the news that the planned two pence rise on fuel duty was being delayed until October.

Yet many including the British Chambers of Commerce said the government should have scrapped the increase completely.

Others welcomed new measures to help small and medium-sized companies.

"The chancellor didn't set the Thames alight, but then he didn't have anything to set it alight with," said CBI director general Richard Lambert.

"On the surface there are no nasty surprises."

'Quell panic'

Edmund King, president of the motoring group AA, said Mr Darling had made a sensible decision in delaying the rise in fuel duty from April to October.

BUDGET BUSINESS POINTS
Capital gains tax for small firms to remain at 10%
Target of 30% of government contracts for small businesses
60m more for Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme
Non-doms charge of 30,000
"This temporary relief should quell any panic at the pumps," he said.

"Two pence might not sound like much but when it is added to the 20p-a-litre increase in pump prices in the last year it could have been the last straw for many motorists and hauliers.

"If fuel prices remain at record levels in the autumn, the increase should be scrapped."

Mr Darling said he had decided to delay the rise in fuel duty because he wanted "to support the economy now and help business and families".

'Grave disappointment'

There were raised eyebrows over the introduction of 107 new technical tax proposals which analysts and the CBI said did not back the chancellor's claims that he was moving towards a simpler, less bureaucratic tax system.

And other business groups criticised the announcement that the government will go ahead with a new "non-doms" tax.

READ THE BUDGET IN FULL

Most computers will open this document automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader

Mr Darling confirmed that non-domiciles, who are generally rich foreigners living in the UK, would now have to pay a "reasonable charge" of 30,000 after seven years to maintain the right to be taxed differently from other UK residents.

Critics fear the move will mean such individuals moving abroad.

Patrick Stevens, tax partner at Ernst & Young, described the government's decision as "a grave disappointment whose impact will be felt for many years to come".

'Untroubled'

The Institute of Directors said it appreciated the overall low-key nature of the budget, saying this was what business needed.

It added that it also welcomed the measures to aid small businesses, such as an additional 60m for the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme.

The government has also pledged to keep the Capital Gains Tax pegged at 10% for small firms.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the government should have gone further in taxing non-doms.

"The richest non-doms will hardly be troubled by this 30,000 poll tax," he said.

'No nasty surprises'

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said it welcomed a Budget speech "with no nasty surprises" for small firms.

"The deferral of plans to change income shifting rules, which would have forced tens of thousands of family businesses to create and maintain a massive amount of extra paperwork on individuals' contributions to their business, is welcome news," said FSB chairman John Wright.

"The plans should now be abandoned permanently."

The British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) said it welcomed the chancellor's announcement of a 30% public procurement target for small and medium-sized firms.

Yet it said the decision not to extend tax relief to venture capital backed companies was "a missed opportunity".

"This means that these firms will continue to be treated differently from other private companies," said BVCA chief executive Simon Walker.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
View from the City and the shop floor



RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific