Three of Building’s gloomwatch panel give their verdict

Pascale Scheurer

Pascale Scheurer, director, Surface to Air Architects

Apart from the welcome spending on public projects, it does feel like Darling is shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic. I doubt the 2.5% VAT cut will convince anyone to go ahead with home improvements. It will however mean more fees to our accountants as they sort out the VAT mess – twice! Architecture practices of all sizes have cut jobs on a drastic scale in the past few weeks. The 2011 National Insurance hike will dissuade practices from keeping – or hiring – staff, and the rise in corporation tax is postponed, not dropped.

Mark Kennor

Mark Kennor, founder of start-up Pure Fit Out

It’s positive for small business. The plans to postpone the increase in corporation tax on small firms from 21% to 22% next year is the main bonus for us. Our business plan had taken into account a tax rise, so we’ll now be rethinking our strategy. I would possibly use the loan scheme the government is setting up for SMEs, although I am keen to avoid borrowing as far as possible. However, I am not that impressed that VAT has been cut to 15%. Most of our work is in retail, so anything that gets people spending in the shops would be a real boost. But I don’t think saving 2.5% is going to make anyone go on a crazy shopping spree.

Markham Jones

Markham Jones, owner of builder 1st Choice Property Services

It’s being said that 10,000 people are going to get jobs installing insulation [as a result of the £100m the government has set aside for energy-efficiency works] but that’s nonsense. Large companies will simply absorb this. I’m certainly not expecting any work to come from it, even though this is a job I can do. The government’s plan to make sure banks keep lending to people like me won’t help as I bank with HSBC rather than one of the banks that has been baled out by the state. I am about to go to the bank for a loan and I’m seriously worried about whether I’ll get it. I need the money to buy materials for a job I’ve been offered and if I don’t get the loan I’ll have to turn it down; it’s a catch-22 situation.