THE SMALL BUSINESS: How the budget will affect us

Major Tony Brotherton, soon to retire from the Army after 18 years' service, launched a new business in Catterick last week.

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The distillery firm, Yorkshire Dales Distillery, is a project with his wife of 10 years, Sarah. Together, they have four children, aged between six and 15, at schools in Barnard Castle and Hipswell, and Mrs Brotherton also volunteers as a specialist support worker at a local primary school.

While there are some concessions within the budget, says Major Brotherton, more needs to be done to tackle the big decisions.

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“There’s a balance, and it’s generally positive,” he said. “The economy seems to be going in the right direction.

“But there’s a number of big decisions, like what do we spend on education and social care, that Government is just not coming to terms with. There are a number of big issues that are just not being dealt with effectively.

“We’re not self-employed, we’re a limited company, but we are a small business. We’ve just had someone walk in who is self-employed, he was spitting feathers as he’s set to lose a significant amount of money.

“We will lose out because we’re both directors and shareholders in the company. But we’re the people putting our money in the business. I can understand though why the chancellor has done it.

“We’re not directly affected by business rates as we’re a small business. We won’t have to pay any business rates from April, which will save us about £250 a month. For us, that’s quite a big difference.

“We’re very pleased by the benefits for small pubs. Across Yorkshire, that will make a big difference. There’s been a big lobby for that within the industry. Pub closures are still very heavy, but there has been a resurgence and this should help.”

And with four children in local schools, he said the funding of £100m set aside for maintenance is almost a token gesture.

“Schools don’t have any money, there’s no flex in the system, especially with the smaller ones,” he said.

“With education, we need to think about the costs. And then think about how we are going to pay for it. We need a sensible way to pay for it. I don’t know if it’s going to be enough.

“They talked for years about our old school, but it wasn’t until the roof collapsed because of flooding that a decision was made to replace it. There isn’t enough money for maintenance - they can only offer funds when it becomes critical.”