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Commenting on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget statement, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Alistair Darling’s first Budget was a missed opportunity for the UK Government to boost Scottish businesses. He could have cancelled his plans to increase the Small Companies’ rate of Corporation Tax by a further 2%, but he didn’t. He could have announced further concessions on his plans to increase Capital Gains Tax, but he didn’t. He could have rejected this year’s 2p rise in Fuel Duty, but instead he has merely postponed it for six months. In addition, he has slapped 55p on the price of a bottle of Scotch whisky, with the threat of further above-inflation increases to come."

Gregor Murray, Chief Executive, Midlothian & East Lothian Chamber of Commerce agreed:

“Promises of future tax simplification and a consultation on limiting the volume of regulation are welcome, but when set against the cold, hard tax rises being experienced by many businesses, they are of little comfort.

“The Chancellor failed to mention Scotland even once during his speech, and his talk of the benefit of investment at Heathrow and Stansted Airports, the Channel Tunnel High Speed Link and London Crossrail will mean little to many Scottish businesses facing rising transport and energy costs.

“We are pleased that the Chancellor has responded to the call from Scottish Chambers of Commerce to set a procurement target for 30% of public sector contracts to go to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the next five years. This is an important commitment from the UK Government and we will continue to work with them and the Scottish Government in the area of public sector procurement to ensure the best possible deal for Scottish businesses.

“Overall though, this was a very disappointing Budget for business in Scotland.”