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Welcome for policy on business rates and National Insurance

Business organisations have welcomed the Chancellor's moves on business rates and are asking whether his boost for the high street should be copied in Scotland.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chamber Of Commerce, said there were positive initiatives for business, adding: "The Chancellor's decision to cap next year's business rates increase at 2% for businesses south of the border is set to be good news for businesses in Scotland too, as a result of the Scottish Government's previously announced commitment to peg the Scottish rate to the English rate. Such a move would provide direct assistance to businesses across the country next year."

She said the Scottish Government's Small Business Bonus Scheme was already better value for business than the English small business relief "but we will need to look more closely at the proposed £1000 rates bonus announced for small retailers compares to existing Scottish reliefs".

Andy Willox, Scottish policy convener for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "If it works south of the border, it might be useful to explore if a similar scheme should be introduced in Scotland.

"By refusing to increase fuel duty, [the Chancellor] has recognised the big impact the price at the pumps has on independent enterprise and the economies of remote communities. By abolishing employers' National Insurance contributions for employees under the age of 21, the UK Government will give both firms and young people's job prospects a boost."

Ms Cameron said the NI initiative would "significantly reduce the barriers to employment for young people in Scotland". But she said it was "extremely disappointing that the Chancellor still cannot see the abolition or reduction of Air Passenger Duty is essential to assist both economic growth and international trade".

David Watt, executive director of the Institute Of Directors Scotland, lamented the absence of commitment to infrastructure projects such as the A9 and A96 and digital connectivity.

Bryan Buchan, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, said the Chancellor had "offered hope to the manufacturing sector". He cited the rates rise cap, the increased support for science, technology and engineering courses, and the tax incentive to encourage investment in shale gas.

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