Small businesses welcome emergency Budget

Published:  05 August, 2010

Almost half the small businesses surveyed by the Forum of Private Business are pleasantly surprised by the Budget. 

In all, 47% of respondents believe that policies announced by the Chancellor George Osborne are better than expected but 11% feel they are worse and could plunge the economy back into recession.

The Forum's research manager, Tom Parry commented: "Many entrepreneurs feel this Budget has given their businesses a timely boost - particularly in reducing red tape and tax cuts and the proposals for an overhaul of business taxation.”  He added:

“But concerns remain over bank lending, the impact on job creation of the National Insurance rise, public-sector cuts and areas of government support. The result of the coalition Government"s first test appears to be that it has passed but is not yet achieving top marks.”

The decision to partially reverse the planned increase in Employers’ National Insurance contributions (NICs) in 2011 is one of the most popular measures. However, some business owners are concerned that, together with the impact of the 2.5% VAT increase and reductions in capital allowances, it could still prove to be a barrier to taking on staff.

Small businesses have welcomed the reduction of the lower rate of corporation tax from 21% to 20% in April 2011 and the Chancellor’s pledge to carry out a root-and-branch departmental review of red tape affecting smaller businesses.

Further, they applaud the Government’s decision not to increase fuel duty at the present time, restrictions in government spending, the promise of a new capital growth fund, the introduction of a bank levy based on lenders’ balance sheets and the extension of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, which has been increased by £200 million and the application process reduced to 20 days.

Following the rise in the entrepreneurs’ relief threshold to £5 million, more businesses feel that increasing high earners’ Capital Gains Tax to 28% is beneficial than believe it is damaging.

In addition to the VAT increase, the least popular measure identified by small businesses is the decision to reduce allowances, including the main and special rate of capital allowances to 18% and 8% respectively and in the Annual Investment Allowance from £100,000 to £25,000. Both are scheduled to take place in April 2012.

Some business owners are urging the Government to prioritise other areas of concern, including continued restrictions in affordable bank finance – the most frequently mentioned single issue.

However the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, was less enthusiastic about the emergency Budget announcements. Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the organisation warned: “This Budget may have given manufacturers much-needed clarity on how the government will go about reducing the deficit, but the short-term pressure to start tackling the deficit means the Chancellor has only done part of the job of rebalancing the economy.

“While businesses will welcome long-term reform and predictability of Corporation Tax and, have been spared the worst impact of changes to Capital Gains Tax, predictability has come at the cost of competitiveness.

“In recent weeks, manufacturers had been encouraged by strong commitments from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor on the role of manufacturing in a better balanced economy. They will now be left wondering where the necessary growth and investment will come from, given the cuts to investment allowances and capital budgets.”

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