Earlier this month, Chancellor George Osborne announced the Autumn Statement 2013, providing an outline for the government’s plans for the economy in the months ahead.
In the week leading up to Mr Osborne’s speech we released our Business Confidence Survey 2013, designed to ascertain the level of business confidence among the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses.
Now that the Autumn Statement has been and gone we thought we would compare the outcome of Mr Osborne’s speech with the issues SME owners wanted addressing by the Chancellor.
Our infographic below demonstrates the key issues small business owners wanted addressing the most by Mr Osborne:
More than half (54 per cent) of respondents wanted the Government to tackle the high cost of fuel which continues to affect the overheads of many small firms.
The Chancellor moved to allay the fears of SME owners by once again cancelling a planned fuel duty increase in September 2014. This should save the average motorist £11 every time they fill up their tank by 2015/16.
A further 47 per cent of respondents also spoke of their concern at a lack of available funding to enable their businesses to expand.
The Government subsequently pledged an additional £250 million to enable the British Business Bank to increase its range of planned “interventions” within the SME finance market, including access to funding.
Suffocating business rates (37 per cent) also ranked highly on the list of key issues the Chancellor needed to address for SMEs in the recent Autumn Statement.
Mr Osborne confirmed that increases to business rates in England would be capped at two per cent, rather than being linked to inflation. The capping of business rates is hoped to encourage small firms back on to High Streets by reducing rates bills by up to £1,000.
Businesses with a rateable value of less than £12,000 will also be eligible to apply for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme; with the Government scrapping plans to withdraw the scheme in April 2014.
The Government will never be able to please all people, all of the time, with the burden of red tape always likely to remain when it comes to employment. While the plans may not be perfect, the Chancellor appears to have taken some solid business-focused steps in the right direction to provide some welcome respite to UK’s small business community.