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All change in budget of ups and downs

Published date: 20 March 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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CHANGES to income tax, pensions, tobacco duty and more were all unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in yesterday’s annual Budget statement.

The threshold when workers start paying income tax will be raised to £10,500 from April 2015, with the result that most people will be £88 a year better off.

Delivery driver Paul Davies, 54, a single father from Wrexham, said: “It’s better than a poke in the eye, but it’s a year into the future and when you break it down, it works out to about £3 a day.

“It’s not a massive amount, but it’s better than having that £3 taken off you.”

Those earning in the region of the 40 per cent tax brackets will also see their threshold rise to £42,285 in 2015-16.

There was no joy for smokers – tobacco duty is set to rise by two per cent above inflation.

But there was good news for gamblers, as bingo duty is being halved to 10 per cent.

Mecca Bingo in places including Chester, Ellesmere Port, Flint and Wrexham will benefit but it comes too late for some.

Nathan Griffiths, 39, an occasional bingo player from Flint, said: “I have seen how the bingo halls have struggled over the years.

“Look at the Flint Mecca, closed and going to rack and ruin, the old dears used to gather on a Friday afternoon where they used to socialise with friends stopping them from becoming isolated.”

Beer duty is to be cut by 1p a pint, while duty on spirits and ordinary cider will be frozen.

Tony Moss, of the Griffin Inn in Rossett, who has been a publican for a decade, said he doubted this would make a great deal of difference to the struggling industry.

He said: “This is better than it was last year and in the intervening time we have managed to keep the price of our lager down. But alcohol is often in the firing line and I expect the budget will change again next year.

“It’s well known that the pub trade is struggling.”

Martina Kavanagh, of y Delyn wine bar in Mold, agreed it was a small change in the right direction.

Pensions are set to see a sweeping change.

Tax on that part of the pension pot taken as cash on retirement will drop to normal income tax rate. Currently it is at 55 per cent.

New pensioners can now take an increased lump sum of £30,000 when they retire and all tax restrictions on pensioners’ access to their pension pots will go.

In real terms, this means pensioners will no longer have to buy an annuity.

Graeme Francis, head of policy for Age Cymru, said last night: “Age Cymru applauds the immediate changes announced today that will allow the millions with several small pension pots to draw their money in cash. We are also very pleased that the UK Government recognises the importance of offering pensioners and those approaching pension age impartial, face-to-face, financial advice.”

The welfare budget – including child benefit, winter fuel payment, income support and incapacity benefit – will be capped at £119 billion for 2015-16, and will be adjusted for inflation after that. Jobseeker’s Allowance and state pensions will not be affected.

Hauliers greeted news that a planned rise in fuel duty will not go ahead in September.

Tony Bromley, transport manager for R J Jones Haulage in Holywell, said: “Fuel accounts for probably half our budget. Whenever that rises, we have to take the hit or pass it on to our customers. This gives us breathing space.”

Mr Osborne added legislation would also be put forward to give the Welsh Government tax and borrowing powers to fund major projects.

 

A NEW 12-sided £1 coin aimed at tackling fakes has been criticised by a vending company staff who say it could cause unemployment in the industry.

Described as a “giant leap into the future”, the new coin will replace the old one in 2017 after the Treasury revealed that three per cent of £1 coins now in circulation are fake, representing a total of more than £45 million.

The coin is based on the historic ‘threepenny bit’, which was the first coin to feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

But unlike its predecessor, the new coin – which will be roughly the same size as the existing one – will contain an array of technological advances making it difficult to forge.

As well as a ‘bi-metallic’ construction similar to the existing £2 coin, the new £1 will also feature banknote-strength security.

But one vending company in Wrexham says its introduction will not be a good thing.

Gerallt Pritchard, managing director of Servicevend, said: “We are the biggest independent operator in North Wales and have never, ever been affected by false pound coins since the pound coins first came out.

“The coin mechanisms these days are so good that they can discriminate the alloy content in the pound coins to stop them being accepted by the vending machines.

“That’s what they are designed for.

“The negative thing here for small vending companies is that they will go out of business trying to convert all of their machines to the new coins.

“It costs nearly £120 to convert each coin mechanisms, so if you have a small company with around 100 machines it is going to cost £12,000 from the bottom line, after already paying once to get the new 5p and 10p converted. Is there a subsidy available? No of course there isn’t. Do the Treasury care? Of course they don’t. It just means more people going unemployed as the companies close down.

“I’m sure everyday people will not understand if their coffee prices at work have to be increased because of this. We will probably have to absorb the cost yet again to remain competitive.”

But market traders in Mold have come out in favour of the new coin.

Stallholder David Jones, 57, National Market Traders Federation chairman, said: “It’s a good idea. It will help get rid of forgeries because it will be harder to copy.

“I don’t get many counterfeit coins, so I think it is unlikely that I will see many copies of the new ones.

“Eventually it will be copied, but because of the design it will be much harder to recreate.”

Bryan Penny, who has the Garden and Pot ornaments stall, said: “I think it is a good thing. It will be advantageous to people who do not have good vision.

“I have come across counterfeit coins occasionally but I’ve never had any real problems with it. It’s always going to happen no matter what the coin looks like.”

Paula Holland, 49, who owns a pet food stall at Mold market, said: “It’s something different which will shake up the current legal tender.

“I don’t think it will confuse people because it will probably be made heavier than the current coin we have.

“I’ve never had any counterfeiting problems, but any copies of the new coin won’t be an issue because you can’t change them anyway.”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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