The best thing about George Osborne’s Budget for independent retailers is a new ‘employee allowance’ which could save businesses £2,000 a year.

budget_2503613bSet to be brought in from April 2014, it means retailers with fewer than 10 members of staff will see their employer National Insurance Contributions bill cut by £805.  Every business will be able to employ one worker on a salary of £22,400, or four employees on the minimum wage, without paying any employer NICs.

But there was plenty of food for thought as well. Business rate rises are a scourge for retailers who have campaigned hard to have them capped at two per cent. And yet there was no mention of rates at all.

Tobacco duty continued to rise two per cent above inflation, along with taxes on spirits and wine, although the beer duty escalator was scrapped and beer tax was cut back by 1p a pint. The planned fuel duty rise of three per cent was also ditched, meaning cheaper journeys to the cash and carry.