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EDITIONS
Pre budget report Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 18:46 GMT
How was it for them?
Much was asked of the chancellor's pre-Budget statement. What did it deliver? Leading pressure groups, think-tanks and trade organisations give their views.

Age Concern

The chancellor took a "significant step" by raising pensions by above the rate of inflation for the first time in 20 years, Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern England, said.

But the rise needs to be repeated in future years to provide a state pension "people can really live on", he said.

While welcoming the rise in minimum income guarantee for pensioners, the charity would preferred the 92.15 a week minimum from April 2001 to apply across the board.

"We see what the government is doing, but many poor pensioners are not aware of their entitlements. Others believe there is a stigma attached to claiming these benefits," a spokesman for the charity told BBC News Online.


British Chambers of Commerce

A lack of big spending pledges in the statement would help protect the UK's economic wel lbeing, BCC director general Chris Humphries said.

And measures to simplify and ease VAT payments for small firms are "imaginative and helpful", the chamber said.

"But more needs to be done to tackle the complexity of taxation and regulation if firms are to grow and compete," BCC deputy director general Dr Ian Peters said.

Proposals outlined in the report to increase the number of staff firms can give share options to had been called for by the BCC.

The chancellor should now make it easier for privately-held companies to similarly give incentives to staff, Dr Peters said.


British Venture Capital Association

Encouraging small firms to give employees share options, by raising a tax relief ceiling from 1m to 2.5m, was a welcome step, the association said.

But the government should go further by making options free of national insurance.

"Options are not something which in essence cost companies anything. Why should they pay national insurance on them?" Vince O'Brien, chairman of the association's tax committee, told BBC News Online.

Extensions to the low 10p rate of capital gains tax were also welcomed in theory.

"But CGT is hellishly difficult," Mr O'Brien said. "We would prefer to see CGT charged at a lower, flat rate. Perhaps at 20p. It would not cost the government anything - the tax is very complicated to administer as it is."


Civic Trust

While the government has aimed 1bn at regenerating towns and cities over five years, the trust's director Mike Gwilliam said this was "disappointing".

"The government has said it is wholeheartedly behind urban regeneration. This package is only half-hearted," Mr Gwilliam told BBC News Online.

"An average of 200m a year is not enough. We needed more to get people to bring sites forward for regeneration."

But he welcomed individual measures, including the "excellent" proposals to speed tax relief for developers cleaning up contaminated land.

The trust is also "fully behind" proposals to reduce VAT on residential conversions, Mr Gwilliam said.


Confederation of British Industry

The chancellor missed an an opportunity to revise the "flawed" climate change levy in his statement, CBI chief Digby Jones said.

"It is still not too late to address this in the 2001 Budget," Mr Jones said.

The levy, which particularly affects energy intensive industries such as manufacturing "is seriously damaging UK exporters", he said.

But the overall package will give firms "a much needed boost" without threatening economic stability.

Reforms to fuel costs will "go some way to reduce the costs to business of using the roads", Mr Jones said.

"[The chancellor] is giving business platform on which it can create wealth on a socially-inclusive basis."


Friends of the Earth

The Chancellor is "overly optimistic" if he thinks a VAT cuts for home renovation will reduce pressure for building on greenfield sites, the organisation said.

"The total package will not come close to providing house-builders with an incentive to shift from greenfield to brownfield sites," FoE said.

But the organisation welcomed support for cleaning up contaminated land, tax credit for private investment in deprived areas, and the commitment to setting up a fund for supporting community development.


Greepeace

The 3p-a-litre cut in low sulphur duty may have been "dressed up" as a green concession, but will do nothing to help the environment, the pressure group said.

"Low sulphur fuels are not green fuels. They are still oil and do nothing to combat climate change," policy director Stephen Tindale said.

"Cheaper fuel will mean more floods."


National Society for Clean Air

The society welcomed plans to reduce duty on ultra-low sulphur petrol.

"The wider use of cleaner petrol... will keep cars running cleaner for longer, and encourage the introduction of cleaner engine technologies," NSCA spokesman Tim Brown said.

But it condemned the extension of the 55 small-car road tax discount to vehicles with engines up to 1500cc in capacity.

"The chancellor has relaxed the incentive to buy more fuel efficient cars, sending the wrong signal to motorists," Mr Brown said.


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