Chancellor George Osborne has announced more help for businesses in a budget he said was for “makers, doers and savers”.

Key measures announced for businesses included a £7bn package to cut energy bills for manufacturers, and more help for businesses wanting to export goods.

The corporation tax rate is to be cut from 23% to 21%, and will go down again to 20% in April next year. This applies to companies with profits more than £1.5m. Business rates will be cut next month, and a relief for small companies has been extended to April 2015.

In addition, there would be more support for apprenticeship schemes, and the introduction of degree-level apprenticeships. Osborne also said annual investment allowance for businesses would be extended to 2015 and doubled.

Speaking about the economy, Osborne insisted the government’s austerity measures were working, announcing the office of budget responsibility (OBR) has revised growth prediction up to 2.7% for 2014, from previous estimates of 1.8%. That was the biggest upward revision for 30 years, said Osborne.

Growing faster

“There is no major advanced economy growing faster than the UK today,” he said. The OBR predicts the deficit will turn into a surplus in 2018/19 if the government’s economic plan is carried through, Osborne claimed.

“Jobs are being created across the country,” said Osborne. “Today we support manufacturers and support all regions of the country.”

Melanie Leech, Director General at the Food and Drink Federation, the voice of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, said: “The Chancellor has listened to our growing concerns on the impact of increasing energy prices on the competitiveness of food and drink. The adoption of our recommendation for Carbon Price Support (CPS) to be frozen will help all manufacturers in our sector while the exemption of industrial Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants from CPS for the on-site generation of electricity will benefit existing and new users of the technology which is in widespread use throughout our sector.

“These changes will provide welcome relief to businesses large and small throughout the UK’s largest manufacturing sector and reward those who invest in energy efficient technologies.”