Budget 'Must Not Leave Businesses Out In The Cold'

George Osborne Urged To Help Small Enterprises


Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has urged chancellor George Osborne to use next month's Budget announcement to introduce new measures that help small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Leaders of the group have submitted a number of recommendations to the government, in which they ask for action on business rates and greater support for small organisations that are struggling to cope with rising costs.

The economy has recovered in the past six months or so and more startup organisations are hoping to build on this momentum by expanding.

However, gaining access to finance - although easier than during the recessionary years - is still proving difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs.

FPB chief executive Phil Orford said that encouraging businesses to invest is the best way to maintain long-lasting economic growth. Mr Osborne, he added, has already stated that a recovery based solely on high levels of consumer spending is unsustainable.

"What our members want to see on March 19th is a Budget that takes decisive action to reduce rising business costs, cut red tape to improve confidence, make it simpler and more profitable to run a small business and encourage the investment essential for a sustainable recovery," Mr Orford commented.

He added that measures outlined in the Autumn Statement of 2013 were welcomed by SMEs, but more work is needed.

The government pledged to conduct a review into rising business rates, although this will not take place until 2017. Mr Orford thinks this needs to be brought forward.

Another area in which the FPB wants to see major improvements is the timing of payments to small enterprises.

Many firms have reported cashflow problems because larger organisations further up the supply chain have not paid them in a prompt manner.

Mr Orford has called for new guidelines that force large corporations to make their payment data public and for mechanisms to be put in place that make it easier for SMEs to challenge unfair payment practices.

Expert Opinion
So many hopes regarding the future performance of the economy have been pinned on small businesses, but their success in helping to drive further improvements is reliant on them also having access to the right type of support. While this includes legal advice, it also relates to many other issues also.

"For example, much research in recent weeks has emphasised that SMEs need better support in terms of access to finance, with some studies also touching upon how they are adversely affected by late payments.

"Hopes will be high that the upcoming Budget will provide the right level of support which allows small businesses to thrive in the coming months, something which will only be good news for business and the economy as a whole."
Fergal Dowling, Partner