George Osborne’s last Budget before the 2015 General Election contained at least one item of significant good news and one important disappointing omission, from our viewpoint.

The positive development was this September’s 0.54 pence-per-litre fuel duty increase being cancelled. As an organisation which arranges deliveries weekly to all parts of the UK, by its own vehicles or those of a contractor, we welcome and appreciate this development, which will have a healthy impact on the construction industry generally. According to one estimate, the scrapping will reduce the cost of fuelling a typical lorry by £21,000 a year.

However, the Budget’s failure to confirm the qualifying spending limit for the Annual Investment Allowance after 31 December 2015 was disappointing. Currently, a company’s first £500,000 of spending a year on capital assets classed as plant and machinery – including office equipment – qualifies for 100 per cent relief against tax on its profits. That figure will continue to apply for assets on-site and ready to be used before the year-end.

But it now seems that businesses may have to wait until the Autumn Statement – only days before 2015 expires – to discover the ceiling from 2016 onwards.

As a leading manufacturer which regularly invests significantly in the latest plant and machinery to ensure we produce the highest quality output, this is an important issue for us. It is only a matter of months, for example, since the media were reporting our £500,000 investment in a new state-of-the-art slitting line at our headquarters near Carlisle.

The coalition deserves credit for raising the previous annual limit ten-fold, from £25,000 to £250,000, in January 2013 and then doubling the figure from April 2014. However, the present ceiling is officially only temporary and without further government action, the maximum would revert to £25,000 from the year-end.

Mr Osborne did confirm in the Budget that this would not be allowed to happen if a Conservative government was elected on 7 May, saying: “I am clear from my conversations with business groups that a reduction to £25,000 would not be remotely acceptable, and so it will be set at a much more generous rate.”

However, businesses like ours need to know exactly where they stand before they can finalise plans for investment, which must often be concluded months before the necessary plant or machinery can be installed. We therefore hope the uncertainty will be ended as soon as possible, a development which will assist recovery from recession further, not just in the construction sector but across UK industry as a whole.

For more information, call Steadmans on 01697 478 277 or email [email protected]