There were few surprises in yesterday’s Budget as most of the main announcements had been flagged up well in advance.

However, one unexpected move was the duty on Scotch whisky being hiked by 10.1% - leading to accusations of the chancellor breaking a government pledge.

UK businesses were also dismayed that there was no U-turn from Jeremy Hunt on Corporation Tax being raised to 25% from 19%.

As regards the Budget speech, there was disappointment in the north-east about the lack of updates on important matters for the local economy.

Hopes had been high that the chancellor would announce that the Acorn carbon-capture and storage project at the St Fergus gas terminal would finally get government support.

Mr Hunt did confirm he was allocating up to £20billion of support for the early development of carbon-capture usage and storage facilities, but there was no mention of the north-east facility.


There was also dismay when there was no news from the chancellor about any rethink on the terms of the controversial windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers.

Evidence of the levy’s detrimental impact on the sector has been emerging on an almost-daily basis, but warnings to Mr Hunt on the long-term effect have been falling on deaf ears.

The chancellor also confirmed yesterday that the government is to deliver 12 investment zones nationwide. Each will have access to £80million of support for a range of interventions, including skills, infrastructure and tax reliefs.

Such an initiative would be welcomed in the Aberdeen area, but Mr Hunt gave nothing away about potential sites north of the border. All he said was Scotland would get at least one zone.

Ryan Crighton, policy director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said last night: “We welcome the £20billion funding for the development of carbon-capture projects – and the Acorn project on the Buchan coast must be one of the beneficiaries of this additional investment if we are to transform our region into the net-zero capital of Europe.

“Aberdeen should also be first in the queue for the Scottish investment zone proposed today. This region has proven time and time again that it can work with government and academia to tackle the big challenges facing the UK.


“The commitment to making the UK as attractive as possible for the life-sciences sector, one of growing importance to this region’s economy, is another positive step.

“However, after months of campaigning and lobbying, the chancellor is yet to recognise the corrosive impact the windfall tax has had on jobs and investment in the North Sea.

“The energy profits levy as it stands is a tax too far - and his failure today to implement a price floor continues to place major investments at risk.

“The government says it will set out further action later this month to ensure energy security in the UK – that action must reflect the explicit warnings coming from industry right now.

“Shell has described the US as a more attractive investment, Harbour Energy is cutting jobs after its UK profits were wiped out by the windfall tax, and one of the North Sea’s biggest fields, Ninian, is being decommissioned due to the tough fiscal environment.

“Our political leaders must wake-up to the damage being done to an industry which supports 200,000 before it is too late.”


Mr Crighton added: “It was billed as a budget for growth, which is at odds with increasing Corporation Tax as businesses recover from the pandemic. However, the introduction of full capital expensing will unleash up to £9billion of investment across the economy per year, as will R&D tax credits.

“Efforts to encourage more people back into the UK workforce will also be helpful in tackling the labour shortages which are holding back so many of our members. The decision today to ease visa rules for the construction sector shows that the government can be flexible in its immigration policy where issues are identified – we need to see this extended further to cover the many other sectors experiencing shortages.”

The Budget will lead to an additional £320million for the Scottish Government over the next two years.

Many of the chancellor's Budget measures, including the expansion of free childcare in England to one and two-year-olds, do not apply in Scotland, but the Scottish Government receives additional money through the Barnett formula.

The Scottish Conservatives have urged the Scottish Government to match the childcare expansion, saying it would be a "huge boost for families and the economy".

Children aged three and four in Scotland currently get 1,140 hours of free childcare a year.

The BBC says Deputy First Minister John Swinney described the Budget as "another missed opportunity" to help households, businesses and public services through the cost-of-living crisis.

He added that the additional money for the Scottish Government's budget was welcome, but will "not go far enough and in the long-term our capital funding will fall in real-terms".

Among the measures that will apply UK-wide are an extension of the Energy Price Guarantee for households until June.

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