Budget: Sweet shop owner calls for tough action on debts

Angie Prior from Axminster’s The Sweet Shop says Britain must live within its means and the Chancellor should take the action needed including encouraging more successful business people to act like chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Angie Prior’s shop is right next door to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Store & Canteen in Axminster and she’s quite pleased about that fact. “When I come here it was like Axminster won the Lottery,” she says. “He had the financial backing to do something to a building that the average person could not do. It used to be a pub and need thousands spent on it.” She adds: “What ever your view of Hugh, if you trade in the town he’s fantastic.”

Angie Prior, who owns The Sweet Shop in Axminster

Angie Prior, who owns The Sweet Shop in Axminster

Prior’s shop is also pretty fantastic, with a steady stream of loyal and new customers on the Thursday that The Daily Telegraph canvassed her views on the Budget. “The good thing about this trade is that everyone can cheer themselves up for a £1,” she says.

She points out that the town’s Thursday market is still be big draw – it is now largely food and drink produce rather than cattle – as are the town’s healthy range of independent shops.

“Axminster is really thriving because it has so many independent shops. People come here and want to open a shop. We are not overwhelmed by the national chains. People can find things that they want and buy things they never knew they wanted.”

Having run the business for eight years, Prior says she is “very optimistic” about its future. This influences her opinion on what the Chancellor should do in his Budget. “I think George Osborne has to be strict” she says. We have to save money and it’s going to be harsh but at the end of the day we will come out stronger from it,” she says.

“Any increase in VAT or duty will always affect sales of cigarettes,” she says, “and any improvement in business rates would be a bonus. But somewhere that money has to be recouped. If we don’t pay business rates [referring to Labour’s proposed one year holiday from October] it will still have to be paid somewhere else.” She applies this same thinking to any decrease in the rate of corporation tax paid by smaller companies. “We shouldn’t give tax giveaways that we can’t afford,” she says.

source: telegraph.co.uk

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