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CBI Calls For More SME Investment

George Osborne Should Use His Autumn Statement To Drive Business Investment


The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged chancellor George Osborne to introduce new measures to stimulate greater levels of business investment in the UK.

Mr Osborne is due to deliver his Autumn Statement announcement on 5 December, which is an update on how the government intends to boost economic growth.

CBI director general John Cridland has sent a letter to the chancellor, in which he has asked for annual business rate increases to be capped at two per cent.

He also believes small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would benefit from energy sector reforms.

With a number of electricity and gas suppliers announcing price rises in recent weeks, Mr Cridland thinks some small firms need extra support.

There is also scope for the government to invest more money into house building and infrastructure projects, which will give the economy a real shot in the arm.

The CBI leader added that the overwhelming majority of new jobs created in the UK over the last five years have been made by SMEs, so it is important to give them as much help as possible.

"Business investment is absolutely vital if we are to continue growing the economy," Mr Cridland commented.

"We must not forget the job on deficit reduction is only half done and needs finishing. This needs to go hand in hand with business investment to create jobs, raise living standards and drive the recovery."

Although SMEs are finding it easier to gain access to finance than they did during the recession, Mr Cridland believes that lending conditions are still far from ideal.

To make the situation easier, he has proposed the introduction of greater securitisation of SME loans and has also urged the government to place more emphasis on alternative sources of finance.

These include private placement, equity finance, crowdfunding and retail bonds.

In his letter to Mr Osborne, the CBI director general stated that although business investment is predicted to rise in 2014, it is still 27 per cent down on the peaks reached prior to the economic downturn in 2008-09.

Expert Opinion
The CBI’s comments on the importance of SMEs can only be welcomed and we agree wholeheartedly with the opinion that growing businesses have had and continue to have a great impact on the recovery being seen in the economy in recent months.

"Providing better support to such businesses will ensure they can continue to do the great work they have been doing, as well as ensuring that ambitious and innovative companies are able to reach their true potential through expansion and wider trade in both the UK and abroad.

"Small businesses need help across a number of areas to really meet their targets, with companies also needing to have access to high quality advice and support on matters including legal compliance. However, finance and investment support is a key aspect and we hope that the Government seriously considers the ideas put forward by the CBI."
Fergal Dowling, Partner