FSB is calling on the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to bring forward bold measures to create a Budget that drives economic growth, fosters a business-friendly environment, and creates job opportunities to support a UK-wide recovery.
The UK’s largest business group’s call comes exactly one month before the Chancellor is to deliver his annual Spring Statement – as the latest Small Business Index (SBI) figures show that small business confidence is down to a level almost on par with the second Covid lockdown.
The UK’s largest business group is calling for the upcoming budget to include measures to boost entrepreneurship and help small businesses, including proposals to scrap business rates for firms in properties with a rateable value of up to £25k a year, paid for by a small increase to the multiplier on very large properties; increasing employers’ Employment Allowance in line with the National Living Wage; and for the Chancellor to lead the way on tackling the UK’s late payment culture.
More than 15 separate recommendations on improving the UK’s flagging labour market participation rates, including a new Kickstart-style job scheme for those whose health problems have kept them out of work for a long time, incentives to spread best practice sickness management, increasing tax-free childcare to £3,000 and more help for over 50s employment.
A delay to the Government’s incredibly damaging decision to slash Research & Development (R&D) tax relief, which has blindsided tech entrepreneurs and small engineering firms. Tax credits for small businesses doing R&D have been the single most successful feature of the last decade of innovation policy and should be prioritised over more funding for Innovate UK.
Proposals to make sure small businesses can access energy efficiency technologies, including a flagship ‘Help to Green’ initiative, as well as those to make the energy market fairer for the smallest business, including a 14-day cooling off period for small firms’ energy contracts.
Proposals to increase training levels, including scrapping the rule that says the self-employed aren’t allowed to deduct training that will help them expand their business, and a further rollout of the EnterprisingYou pilot that has received positive results for the self-employed in Manchester.
FSB Policy Chair Tina McKenzie said, “We need to see a strong agenda for growth. The problem facing the Conservative Government is the economic clock is ticking as much as the electoral one.
“There are far too many necessary steps for promoting economic growth that are now urgent. The Chancellor has to make significant strides on multiple areas of policy at once to deliver returns that people notice and lead to strong growth.
“There have been very encouraging signs that Jeremy Hunt ‘gets it’ – the Budget is make or break to see if he can turn words into action. The Chancellor’s Bloomberg speech showed a lot of promise, and you can tell he is a former entrepreneur himself. The fact there are lots of economic challenges, means that there is huge opportunity for action.
“Hopefully, there is a recognition in Government that too many initiatives of the past have ignored the small businesses that make up such a large chunk of UK firms, and that we need to focus on small firms when making economic policy. We need to help people back to work, get more entrepreneurs starting businesses, tackle inefficiencies in our energy use, and favour challenger businesses when it comes to R&D.
“It is time to be bold and show grip.”
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