Astra finds Budget 2013 helpful for business


In the wake of last week’s Budget announcement, the Astra Gaming Group has offered its assessment of George Osborne’s latest efforts to re-invigorate business in the UK. “With little impact being made on the deficits and borrowing requirements and with the 2013 growth forecast being halved to 0.6 per cent the Chancellor had little room for manoeuvre,” said the group. “Nevertheless there are a few helpful changes.”

Foremost among those changes, it said, is the fact that the 3p fuel duty rise which had been scheduled for implementation in September has been scrapped. “Fuel is a very significant cost to Gamestec, for example. As a national operator with extensive service requirements it has to withstand the pressure of running a large fleet of vehicles, all of which are under pressure when it comes to logistics and response times. The Chancellor’s response to address fuel concerns is, therefore, a welcome one.”

Astra also acknowledged Osborne’s move to replace the planned 3p increase on beer duty in April with a 1p cut, as well as the decision to axe the duty escalator on beer. “Reducing the price of a pint and stabilising beer duty in the longer term could be an important factor in slowing down the rate of pub closures,” it noted. “This is particularly relevant to Gamestec and Bell-Fruit Games, for whom the pub sector represents the heartland of their business.”

The Budget has had an impact, too, on more fundamental areas of business, said the firm. “National Insurance reductions of £2,000 per firm and the further cut in Corporation Tax to 20 per cent in 2015 could potentially stimulate expansion and investment for some of our customers,” it ventured. “And vitally, the tax credit system for research and development has been upgraded from 9.1 per cent to 10 per cent. That’s a considerable development for companies like Astra Games, Bell-Fruit Group, Empire and Mazooma as their respective R&D departments strive to introduce new and innovative products for an increasingly discerning market place.”

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