Responding to Office for National Statistics figures showing that GDP rose by 0.3% in January 2023 compared with the previous month, but was flat in the three months to January.
Tina McKenzie, Policy Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “While January’s figures are a glimmer of hope, the flat growth over the previous three months means we’re not out of the woods yet, with tough trading conditions persisting for many small firms.
“Plenty of challenges remain. Inflation has only barely eased, and the tax burden for small firms is as high as it’s been for seven decades.
“The closure of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme at the end of this month is a looming deadline for many small businesses who are likely to see their bills shoot up. The planned fuel duty hike must not take place, as it would be devastating for countless small businesses which rely on their vehicles.
“We’re looking for a Budget that focuses on our three priorities: help for small businesses to drive growth, to boost investment, and to increase labour market participation.
“We want to see business rates overhauled, with many more small firms taken out of paying them, giving them some breathing space and reducing the day-one costs faced by new enterprises.
“Small firms will be looking to the Chancellor to demonstrate his leadership on late payments when he stands up on Wednesday.
“We urge the Chancellor to restore SME R&D tax credits to their former place, driving tens of thousands of newly innovative businesses to invest, while a Help to Green scheme would enable small businesses to reduce their emissions, cut their energy bills, and stimulate the economy at the same time.
“We want barriers to employment to be lowered, with a Kickstart-style scheme to help disabled people into work, alongside an improved childcare offering – so it isn’t more expensive for parents to stay in work than to reduce hours or leave employment entirely in order to look after their children.
“Outside the Budget, we’re calling for energy firms to allow small business customers who fixed their contracts while costs were sky-high to be able to blend and extend their contracts, to ensure they don’t face unaffordable bill increases in April.”
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