‘This Budget will not give rise to high-octane spending,’ says Sir Stanley Kalms, chairman of Dixons Stores (right), before the warranties scare wiped an estimated 87m off the company’s share price. ‘This Budget won’t spark profligate consumer spending, I think those days are over for now. Last year we had a political Budget that really was targeted towards getting people to spend.’
‘The rise in duty on alcopops is motivated not by economics but by politics,’ says Ian Morris, Bass Brewers head of communications. ‘This is a depressing response to prejudice rather than facts. Under-age drinkers are attracted to stronger, cheaper drinks like white cider and vodka with soft drinks. Independent research shows young drinkers are driven by prices, and Clarke has made strong drink more attractive to them.’
‘We welcome tax cuts which are concentrated on lifting the threshold,’ says James May, director general of the British Retail Consortium, endorsing an expansion in the 20 per cent tax band. ‘This concentrates more money at the poorer end of the scale – people who need to spend more of their income. This will feed through to retailers.’
‘I think this will sell a few more computers at Christmas,’ says Nick Barley, Oracle director of marketing. ‘But I would have liked to have seen more help with IT in schools. Business is bearing too much of the cost of bringing the Internet to children.’
While the anti-smoking lobby rejoiced at saving 2,700 lives, Clive Turner – executive director for industry affairs at the Tobacco Manufacturers Association – was predictably inflammatory. He accused Clarke of supporting ‘a criminal underclass – the only winners are the smugglers who must be toasting the Chancellor with a cigar and a bottle of contraband champagne’. And that despite Clarke offering unspecified protection to drinks and tobacco companies from smugglers.
Tony Greener, chairman of Guinness, was ‘delighted that the Chancellor has cut duty on whisky and other spirits for the second year in a row.’ But with no reciprocal fall in beer duties its brewing arm is less happy. ‘It’s got to be disappointing,’ says a spokesman.
‘This Budget will have no impact on the strategies and the spends of advertisers,’ says Bob Willott, partner at Willott Kingston Smith. ‘There is nothing in the Budget to unsettle; it is boring.’
An understated British Airways called the Chancellor’s move to double airport taxes ‘unwelcome and dis-criminatory towards air travel’.