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Budget 2011: business support

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Given that this was the much heralded post-cuts Budget, one with the ambition to set the economy on the road to recovery and growth, it came as no surprise that the Chancellor included a number of measures aimed at helping businesses.

Along with several tax reforms intended to encourage entrepreneurship, Mr Osborne said the Government will be consulting on modernising the administration of the PAYE system.

The Chancellor also addressed the issue of business regulation. A package of measures will mean that new rules that would have cost an annual £350 million to implement are to be dropped. One of those to be scrapped is extending the right to request time off to train to the employees of firms with fewer than 250 staff. Another to go is the dual discrimination rules.

Micro-businesses (with fewer than ten employees) and start-ups are to benefit from a moratorium exempting them from new domestic regulations for three years as from 1 April 2011.

The planning system is to experience an overhaul, making it easier to get sustainable developments off the ground, and streamlining and speeding up planing applications.

The small business rate relief holiday is to be extended for another year, taking the tax break up to October 2012.

Over the next four years, the Government is to invest £30 billion in transport projects, while the Business Renovation Allowance, which provides relief on the refurbishment of business premises in certain areas, is to be extended for another five years as from 2012.

To help ensure that the whole of the country has the chance to make its mark on the recovery, the Government is to establish 21 enterprise zones, rather than just the ten previously planned.

The zones will be offering firms that move to them a series of tax breaks, notably a 100 per cent business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over a five-year period and, through Local Enterprise Partnerships, scope for enhanced capital allowances in those areas with a strong emphasis on manufacturing.

Some 50,000 extra apprenticeship places are to be created over the next four years with the backing of £180 million of Government funding.

So that SMEs can participate more fully in the apprenticeship programme, the Government will lend grant support to business consortia to set up advanced and higher apprenticeship courses.

There are plans to create new export credits that will help smaller manufacturing firms compete in overseas markets.

To strengthen the UK’s technology base, the country is to get its first Innovation Centre for high-value manufacturing.

The University Technological Colleges programme is to be expanded, with at least 24 new colleges up and running by 2014. The colleges will offer training in technical subjects for teenagers.

A further £100 million is to be spent on leading UK science facilities.