UK business groups urge chancellor to help firms grow

George Osbourne

Business groups in the UK have urged the government to address the financing constraints faced by small and medium-sized firms.

With just over a week to go before Chancellor George Osborne presents his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the manufacturers’ organisation EEF have set out what they see as the highest priorities.

EEF pointed out that business investment is still 15% below its pre-recession peak and said that the government needs to take action that will support firms looking to invest, export and grow.

Terry Scuoler, EEF chief executive, claimed that the Autumn Statement should include action to ensure that companies looking to invest have the right support from the tax system and the banking sector.

The FSB also wants the Autumn Statement to set out a plan for businesses to grow.

At a time when small firms are still finding it hard to access finance, the FSB wants greater competition in the banking sector and would like the chancellor to provide more details of the planned Business Bank and explain how this will increase competition in the small business finance market.

According to the FSB, which represents around 200,000 small business members, the Business Bank could be the stepping stone to creating a Small Business Administration which is dedicated to promoting and protecting the needs of small firms.

Additionally, the FSB has called for an extension to the National Insurance Contributions holiday scheme. It claims that extending the scheme would create around 45,000 jobs and add GBP1.3bn to GDP.

Lastly, the FSB would like the tax system to be simplified for small businesses, by allowing those with a turnover of less than GBP77,000 to move to cash-based accounting, and it wants the fuel duty rise due in the New Year to be scrapped in order to help relieve the pressure on tight finances of both businesses and households.

The Autumn Statement, which is scheduled for 5 December, is intended to provide an update on the government’s plans for the economy based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

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