Today’s budget included a number of announcements that will affect people living in rural areas. Here’s our breakdown:

Business rates

  • New threshold for small business rate relief will raise from £6,000 to a maximum threshold of £15,000. This means premises with a rateable value of £15,000 and below will not pay business rates.
  • Small Business Minister Anna Soubry claims that “600,000 small businesses will not pay rates” as a result of this change

 Duty and Excise

  • Beer and cider duty frozen along with whisky. Duty on all other alcohols to increase
  • Fuel duty frozen for sixth year in a row

Flood Defences

  • Increase in the insurance premium tax by 0.5% with revenue raised (£700 million) going to flood defence schemes

 Transport and Infrastructure

  • £300 million in transport investment and go ahead confirmed for Crossrail 2 and HS3
  • Investment in a four-lane M62 and a new tunnel road and upgrades for A66 and A69
  • Halving the price of tolls on the Severn Crossing to Wales

Schools

  • Fairer national funding formula for schools brought forward – this should benefit rural schools
  • By 2020 all primary and secondary schools in England will be academies or be in the process of becoming academies
  • £1.5 billion in funding for school sport and art clubs to help schools stay open an extra hour each day

Sarah Lee, head of policy, comments: “The Countryside Alliance welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment in today’s Budget to support small businesses by cutting business rates or abolishing them for 600,000 businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of the rural economy and these proposals will ensure that businesses in our rural communities can remain competitive not only locally but nationally and globally.  Coupled with the Chancellor’s recognition of the cost of fuel for businesses and households with the freezing of fuel duty for the sixth year running, hardworking people in the countryside will have more money in their pocket.”