RURAL INSURER WELCOMES ‘BUDGET FOR BUSINESS.’

A day after it announced its sponsorship for the British Chamber of Commerce ‘small business of the year’ award, insurer NFU Mutual has welcomed measures in the Budget that will help rural businesses.

Doubling Annual Investment Allowances will provide a massive boost to rural businesses, says to Sean McCann, personal finance specialist at leading rural insurer NFU Mutual.

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“The Chancellor’s Budget surprise announcement that Annual Investment Allowances for businesses would be doubled to £500,000 until the end of 2015 is great news for rural businesses. It should encourage investment in new plant and machinery, boosting incomes and helping create jobs in the rural economy.

“To help businesses make long-term plans for development we urge the Chancellor to make this increase permanent in the next Budget.

The countryside is a very enterprising place. According to the Prince’s Countryside Fund, rural businesses contribute £22 billion in domestic food and drink to the UK economy every year, whilst rural tourism generates another £14 billion. Rural businesses also employ 5.5 million people and range in size from small enterprises through to large manufacturing businesses so measures to help them invest in new premises and machinery and create new jobs can only be good news for the UK economy as a whole, and rural businesses in particular.

Rural businesses will also be relieved that planned increases in fuel duty were scrapped and £200m set-aside for local authorities to repair the thousands of potholes which are currently making driving hazardous on country roads. The announcement comes less than a month after NFU Mutual revealed that the number of claims it received for pothole-related damage rose by 21% between 2012 and 2013.

“The rural road network is essential for rural businesses,” said Nicki Whittaker, a Rural Affairs Specialist for NFU Mutual. “Any measure to help reduce the burden of fuel costs for local businesses and improve the condition of the rural road network is welcome, particularly after the recent period of prolonged bad weather; however, it is important that the Government continues to invest in the road network.”

At a time when many businesses are still struggling to get back on their feet after the recent storms and floods, there was also good news in the Budget for businesses in flood-prone areas that an extra £140m is being put aside for flood prevention investments. This news comes after NFU Mutual revealed it had paid out over £90 million in claims for flood and storm damage and that it would take many businesses years, rather than months to recover from the effects of the recent bad weather.

The only disappointment for businesses was the postponement of a revaluation of business rates, which would have benefitted many businesses outside London.

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