Home Business News Millions of struggling small businesses call on Hunt for Spring Budget support

Millions of struggling small businesses call on Hunt for Spring Budget support

by LLB Finance Reporter
27th Feb 24 1:01 pm

An open letter addressing the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, on behalf of the UK’s 5.5 million small business owners is calling on for the government to extend the Energy Bills Discount scheme beyond March 2024.

With the Spring Budget fast approaching, millions of small businesses are being held back due to the challenging circumstances that are pushing them to their breaking point.

With SMEs spending up to 40% more in energy each month than the previous year, Alan Thomas, UK CEO of Simply Business, is championing the self-employed who are being crippled by late payments and lack of support from our government.

Dear Chancellor,

Ahead of the Spring Budget we are writing to you, on behalf of the UK’s 5.5m small business owners, to take urgent action.

Small businesses are undeniably the backbone of both our communities and economy. Yet the self-employed are currently facing a crippling set of circumstances that have left them squeezed from both sides – with costs spiralling at a time when their customers are becoming increasingly price conscious

Make no mistake, they need immediate support. For many, survival is a struggle – over a quarter told us they are already at risk of closure. Growth, meanwhile – which will hold the key to our economic recovery – is near-impossible.

And it’s vital we remember that behind every small business is a small business owner. The issues that are plaguing the SME community and impeding growth – from soaring interest rates and late payments, to eye-watering energy costs and the heavy hand of business rates – are not only taking their toll professionally, but also on people’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

SMEs cannot wait months for a General Election. They need assurances now, as the cost of doing business continues to rise. Even the likes of the national minimum wage increase – which is undoubtedly a positive for the workforce – will leave many small business owners reconsidering their hiring plans.  The risks to productivity and growth are clear.

Our research revealed that a staggering £32bn in late payments is owed to small businesses. But with the right action, small businesses getting paid on time could boost the economy by £2.5 billion annually, according to figures from the Department for Business and Trade. We understand that some progress has been made to tackle the issue of late payments, but more needs to be done. Small businesses need more than promises.

With over a quarter of SMEs spending up to 40% more in energy each month than in the previous year, Simply Business is calling for the government to extend the Energy Bills Discount scheme beyond March 2024 and provide some clarity and protection for non-domestic energy users. Without this support, many small businesses will struggle to survive to see the next Spring Budget.

Millions of small businesses are being held back – not because of a lack of ambition, but because challenging circumstances are stretching them to the limit.

We are calling on the government to invest in the future of millions of British small businesses. Create the conditions for SMEs to thrive, and we will all feel the benefit.

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