In a Budget that signalled the start of the phoney war before the election battle begins, the chancellor’s aim was clear: “growth up, jobs up, and taxes down”. BETHANY WALES takes a look at whether his statement hit the mark.


  • National insurance cut by a further 2p from April
  • The VAT threshold for small businesses increased, from £85,000 to £90,000
  • Tax breaks scrapped for second homeowners making money from holiday lets
  • New British ISA to be introduced
  • High-income child benefit threshold raised to £60,000
  • Abolishment of non-dom status
  • Alcohol duty was frozen and the 5p cut in fuel duty extended
  • A further £120m of funding for the Green Industries Growth Accelerator 
  • Almost £6bn in additional funding for the NHS
  • Excise duty on vaping products announced
  • Reduction of capital gains tax rate from 28pc to 24pc


The government's last major financial statement before the general election contained few surprises.

The “crowd pleaser” announcement was, as expected, another 2p cut to national insurance - the second reduction in employment taxes in a year.

It’s estimated that the move will save the average earner £450 a year.

It sounds good, but it's worth noting that OBR figures show average incomes will be no higher at the end of this Parliament than they were at the beginning of 2019.

READ MORE: Relief after 'lifeline' fund which helped thousands in Norfolk spared axe in Budget

In total, the government will take £19.7bn more in tax by 2029 than forecasted in March 2021, even when the cuts to National Insurance are included, due to fiscal drag.

Rob Bradley, manager of Castle Quarter, said he had little faith the move would help get consumers through the door.

Eastern Daily Press: Rob Bradley, manager of Castle QuarterRob Bradley, manager of Castle Quarter (Image: Newsquest)

He said: “Cutting National Insurance by 2p in the pound for employees and the self-employed is welcome, but an income tax cut would have had a wider impact, helping more people. 

“And I’m not sure how much difference, if any, it will make to those feeling the cost-of-living crisis most.

“From a consumer perspective, people will continue to have to make hard choices about where and how to spend.”

In other tax news, the chancellor has abolished tax breaks that up until now have made it more profitable for second homeowners to let out their properties to holidaymakers instead of long-term tenants.

This is going to be particularly impactful in north Norfolk, where high numbers of vacation lets is pushing up house prices and creating “ghost towns” out of the summer season.

Eastern Daily Press: Burnham Overy Staithe, where 50pc of properties are holiday homes (Image: Matthew Usher)Burnham Overy Staithe, where 50pc of properties are holiday homes (Image: Matthew Usher) (Image: Matthew Usher)

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said: “The abolishing of the tax advantages for furnished holiday lets will help support and incentivise landlords to move towards letting their homes under, long-term lets. 

“We have a chronic shortage of long-term rentals for families so this is something I have been calling for and am pleased to see it.”

The chancellor also announced a reduction in Capital Gains Tax from 28pc to 24pc, which Mr Baker welcomed on the grounds it would make it easier for second homeowners to sell, “freeing up more homes” in the region.


The biggest announcement for small businesses was the increase to the VAT threshold from £85k to £90k.

This is the first increase to the VAT registration threshold for seven years, despite sustained calls for action from business owners. 

But does it go far enough?

Lauren Miller, the owner of Genesis Hair Salon in Cromer, says “absolutely not”.

Eastern Daily Press: Lauren Miller, the owner of Genesis Hair Salon in CromerLauren Miller, the owner of Genesis Hair Salon in Cromer (Image: Newsquest)

She said: “An increase of £5,000 a year is going to do very little for the majority of small business owners, especially those in partnerships.

“I joint-own the salon with another person, so this will only give us an additional £2.5k of turnover each.

“Our outgoings are huge, thanks to the rising cost of running a business, so the fact that it's based on turnover rather than profit is very problematic.”

Candy Richards, from the Federation of Small Businesses, agreed.

Eastern Daily Press: Candy Richards from the Federation of Small Businesses (Image: Candy Richards)Candy Richards from the Federation of Small Businesses (Image: Candy Richards) (Image: Candy Richards)

She said: “Increasing it to £90,000 is certainly a step in the right direction but we will continue to campaign for an increase to £100,000.

“With small businesses facing significant pressures from high input costs and a sluggish economy, we needed a bolder budget to support small businesses. 

“Many are barely making ends meet and have put their growth plans on pause, indefinitely.”


One area where the chancellor did win support in the East was his announcements on energy.

An extra £120m was announced to help grow the UK's green industries, in a move set to benefit Norfolk’s offshore wind network.

Eastern Daily Press: Offshore wind in Norfolk could benefit from the funding boost announced in the spring budgetOffshore wind in Norfolk could benefit from the funding boost announced in the spring budget (Image: Newsquest)

Lexi Brackpool, project manager for Eastwind, said: "This can only support the country's net zero targets. 

“As the East of England's offshore wind cluster, net zero and clean energy development are at the forefront of everything we (Eastwind) do. 

“We welcome all commitment from the government to further develop and grow the green economy.”

Eastern Daily Press: Lexi Brackpool, project manager for EastwindLexi Brackpool, project manager for Eastwind (Image: Eastwind)

Mr Hunt also committed to extending the Energy Profits Levy - AKA “windfall tax" - on oil and gas companies.

It was introduced in May 2022 after oil and gas firms made huge profits when energy prices spiked in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The news was broadly welcomed by those working in the renewable energy sector, with many hoping the money could help deliver the UK’s decarbonisation strategy, if used correctly.

READ MORE: No Budget windfall for major Norfolk road schemes - but hopes for new school

However, Kate Mulvany, principal consultant at Norwich-based energy consultancy Cornwall Insight, said: “Without a solid transition strategy away from the UK's oil and gas dependence and no assurance that tax revenues will directly support decarbonisation initiatives, the potential upheaval in investment could outweigh the benefits.

“The stability of the UK's regulatory environment has historically been a significant draw for investors looking to support renewable energy projects. Prolonging the windfall tax could weaken investor confidence, at a time when the UK is seeking record levels of investment to deliver the transition to net zero.”


Jeremy Hunt said the government will create a tax-free British savings account (ISA) as part of efforts to encourage more investment in UK companies.

The ISA will give people an additional £5,000 tax-free allowance to invest in UK assets, on top of the existing £20,000 limit.

Eastern Daily Press: Jeremy Hunt revealed his Spring BudgetJeremy Hunt revealed his Spring Budget (Image: Press Association)

The chancellor said the move would allow Brits to “benefit from the growth of the most promising UK businesses, as well as supporting those businesses with the capital to expand”.

Rachel Springall, finance expert at Norwich-based comparison website,, said: “The annual allowance of £5,000 will be on top of existing ISA allowances, good for those who expect to use their current tax-free allowance. 

“The intention of the British ISA is to grow our economy, reward investors and support British business. 

“This new ISA could well incentivise investment in UK-focused assets, but the government will consult on the details.”

Critics, however, warn that the benefits will be limited to a privileged minority of investors currently able to max out the current £20,000 tax-free limit.