THE final ever Spring Budget was met with a mixed reaction from business representatives across Worcestershire.

Among Chancellor Philip Hammond's headline grabbing announcements were tax cuts for pubs, a £5 million fund to help mothers back to work, and a £690 kitty to be shared among councils to help ease congestion.

But there was criticism from some on the announcement self-employed workers earning more than £16,200, will see National Insurance contributions (NIC) rise from nine per cent to 11 per cent in 2019.

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), said: "While it is great to see that the government has listened to the concerns of the business community with regard to business rates and the upcoming rollout of Making Tax Digital, ACCA is concerned that an increase in the NIC for the self-employed will be harmful for UK growth and entrepreneurship.

"Self-employees are subject to a lower NIC because they do not receive the same entitlements and benefits as their employed counterparts – such as holiday and sick leave."

David Thomas, chief executive of Midlands firm Barratt Homes, said: "We applaud the measures announced today to support the UK’s economy, particularly on skills.

"With 350,000 workers having left construction since the financial crisis, there is a real need to bring in more young people into the industry with new skills."

Clare Francis, Barclays' savings and investments director, added: “The surprise announcement that the dividend allowance will fall from £5,000 to £2,000 in 2018 underlines the importance of maximising the stocks and shares, Investment ISA allowance, as returns are tax free.

"If you haven’t taken advantage of this tax year’s ISA allowance yet there’s still time – you have until April 5 and can invest up to £15,240."