SOUTHAMPTON city leader has slammed the budget as a “missed opportunity” to help struggling businesses and households.

Cllr Richard Williams, leader of Southampton City Council, said: “There is nothing in this budget for local government despite the localgGovernment's chairman's request for increasing borrowing for public housing, which would have helped the economy, the community and the environment.

“I wasn't optimistic based on the Chancellor's past record, which has brought us to the brink of a triple-dip recession thanks to his austerity measures which have disproportionally hit the poor and vulnerable and left the economy in the doldrums.

“Economic growth down by half to 0.6 per cent is really scary.

“We've not had any clear steer on infrastructure targets for investment like renewable energy and the green economy. A large scale nuclear power station like Hinkley Point is not going to be online for a decade and could that money have been better spent reducing family fuel bills?

“Mr Osborne has missed another opportunity to get the economy back on track by investing in industry and our high streets, and has again looked after his rich friends in the City.”

But Cllr Williams said he was pleased that the Chancellor had accepted Michael Heseltine's idea of a single competitive pot of funding for local enterprise.

He added: “Also, the £3 billion infrastructure investment - although dropping the millionaire tax cut would have enabled more to be put into infrastructure. We are hopeful that our City Deal negotiations with government will fast-track infrastructure investment such as Royal Pier here in Southampton.”