Autumn Statement 2012 a letdown for SMEs

Nick Moore, MD

George Osborne delivered a very safe and somewhat predictable Autumn Statement today and it seems that SMEs were right not to expect any early Christmas presents from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

There was no immediate encouraging news for small business and start-ups.

Osborne committed £1bn confirmed for the business bank to address lending to small businesses but failed to indicate how and who this help. If, like the previous government's actions to force banks to lend to small businesses, the process is too long and complicated with 101 qualifying conditions then it won’t work. 

The announced cuts in corporation tax and the increase in plant and machinery allowance are encouraging for larger businesses and companies from outside the UK looking to set up in Britain, but do little for our small business.

With rising business rates, energy bills and employment costs, the challenge facing small local businesses is how to make taxable profits in the first place.

In a recent survey of our members, 89% said they don’t think the government is doing enough to support SMEs

Today’s statement, I believe, will not change their opinions

Over 20% of our We Trade It members are retailers and will welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a one-year extension to the small-business rate relief scheme but this will not benefit enough businesses to stimulate the investment needed to revive Britain’s high streets. 

The chancellor had an opportunity to give some financial certainty to hard-pressed businesses by capping the annual rates increase at 2% but he hasn’t. This will be a damaging blow to many small businesses who are struggling to stay afloat.

In a recent survey of our members, 89% said they don’t think the government is doing enough to support SMEs and 96% said they had little or no confidence in the Governments strategy to solve the current economic problems. Today’s statement, I believe, will not change their opinions. 

Ultimately I feel that the statement lacked innovation, forward thinking and leadership. Osborne failed to deliver a clear plan of action that details how he will deliver the support that Britain’s SMEs so desperately need.


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