Small businesses are the winners from Osborne's Budget

By Simon Jack
Business editor

image copyrightBethany Clarke

George Osborne has often thought big when writing his Budget speech - this time he thought small.

Small businesses are the clear winners from the Budget with big businesses picking up the bill - and then some.

The biggest beef for small businesses are rates, which far exceed the amount they pay in corporation tax, and there were hopes they would be reduced.

Mr Osborne has obliged, announcing 630,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all from next year.

He claims the reduction will save £7bn per year for businesses. The bill for that will fall to big corporations.

Big firms face a crackdown on practices which reduce taxable profits, including offsetting debt interest against profits and using losses in one year to offset profits in another.

The government says this combination of measures will raise £9bn. Yet in the past, measures to crack down on tax avoidance have had mixed success and the chancellor is relying heavily on it to fund his small business initiatives.

Businesses big and small will be grateful he didn't raise fuel duty. The "feel good factor" that creates is at least as important as the threat of a Tory backbench riot.

However, these trades between big and small are all overshadowed by the central view of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that the single most important measure of an economy - its productivity growth - looks permanently damaged.

That's the big economic picture and it is not a pretty one.

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