Reaction to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's budget ranged from a welcome for plans to equalise tariffs for prepayments meters to fears about the impact of more Universal Credit sanctions.

Peter Kelly, Poverty Alliance director, said: “People in the UK believe in justice and compassion but today’s Budget will strike fear into the hearts of millions.

“The Chancellor’s decision to widen the callous and ineffective sanctions regime is completely wrong.

Glasgow Times: Picture: Colin Templeton..08/07/15 Poverty Alliance opinion - for budget...Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance...Picture: Colin Templeton...

"Our unjust economy simply doesn’t offer people the kind of secure, suitable employment that they need, and too many people simply can’t increase their working hours because of poor transport links, health and disability issues, caring commitments, or lack of affordable childcare.

“Interviews at the Job Centre won’t solve the issues that prevent people from entering employment and increasing their working hours. We strongly oppose any extension of sanctions – they only create more poverty and do nothing to help people into employment.”

READ MORE:Budget: Chancellor sets out major reforms to Universal Credit

Business leaders were hoping for more help with rising costs.

Andrew McRae, Federation of Small Businesses’ Scotland Policy Chair, said: “Today’s budget doesn’t offer much practical help to smaller firms worrying about their costs and cashflow. 

“Many will be disappointed at a lack of headline measures to provide the immediate support they so badly need.

“There was nothing, for example, on business energy prices once the current support scheme stops at the end of the month.  We needed something better than the simultaneous insignificant and expensive, current replacement plan.”

READ MORE:Budget: Chancellor said he listened to Martin Lewis on energy bills

The Scottish Government said energy bills would still be rising despite the measures. 

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “This UK Budget is another missed opportunity to take meaningful action to lift families out of poverty, invest in our public services and help businesses so that our economy can grow.

“Instead, the UK Government should have taken more substantive action to increase the Scottish Government’s budget so we can better align spending and deliver for people and organisations right across Scotland.

“While the reversal of the planned increase in the energy price guarantee is welcome, with the end of the energy bills support payments, average household monthly bills will still rise by almost a third in April, at a time when wholesale energy costs are falling.”

Glasgow Times: Embargoed to 0001 Sunday November 22

File photo dated 16/10/15 of Deputy First Minister John Swinney who has written to George Osborne to urge him to abandon his plan to raise a budget surplus by the end of the decade, and move to a budget balance instea

READ MORE: Budget: Beer duty frozen but anger at spirits tax hike

And benefit sanctions were a concern for Scotland's leading advice charity.

David Hilferty, Citizens Advice Scotland Social Justice spokesperson, said: “People need support not sanctions. The prospect of more sanctions is concerning.

“Almost half of Universal Credit claimants are already in work and have overcome significant barriers to obtaining that work. 

The Citizens Advice network is already seeing evidence of people who are in work but still struggling to keep their head above water.”

“These changes must not be designed solely with the purpose of reducing claimant numbers – the effect must not be to push people into unsuitable, inappropriate or low-quality work.”

Anne McLaughlin, Glasgow North East SNP MP, who has campaigned against prepayment meters, said: “It's welcome news that the Chancellor is proposing to tackle the unfair premium paid by prepayment meter customers for their energy.

Glasgow Times: MP Anne McLaughlin

“Prepayment meter customers have faced higher unit rates and much, much higher standing charges for their energy. 

“We’ve seen prepayment meter customers stack up hundreds of pounds worth of debt in high-standing charges when they run out of credit. 

“It’s an awful situation, where you can be sat in the cold and dark, and yet your standing charges keep stacking up.  So these standing charges need to come down.”