Chancellor’s Budget: Small Business strivers snubbed at meagre Spring Budget
Business / Thu 16th Mar 2023 am31 09:49am
ANN Scott, Development Manager (Essex) at Federation of Small Businesses, has offered her initial reaction to the Spring Budget:
The Chancellor had set high expectations for supporting small firms during these challenging times, but today’s Budget will leave many feeling short-changed.
The distinct lack of new support in core areas proves that small firms are overlooked and undervalued. Budgets are about tough choices, and with today’s £billions being allocated to big businesses and households, 5.5million small businesses and the 16 million people who work for them will be wondering why the choice has been made to overlook them.
We’ve got a Budget that helps households with energy costs but not small firms. On business taxes, it spends £27bn extra on big businesses, arguing that small businesses are already catered for. This will leave to a feeling of being left behind instead of being considered equal partners in economic recovery – trickledown economics here simply does not work.
Proposals to help people with health conditions are ill-designed and won’t help people get back to work, and we fear the work capability assessment changes won’t happen for years. The Chancellor has failed to take any action to make it easier for small firms to recruit people locked out of the labour market. Those with health conditions and disability have been let down by a Government that does nothing to work with small employers and is continuing with its failing Jobcentre-focused approach. Small measures on subsidising occupational health are welcome but not the big bang needed.
Measures on the over 50s are token efforts at best, though we are pleased the Government is committing to the skills bootcamp model.
The principle of what’s announced on childcare is positive – but this Government’s Achilles heel is in delivery and practicalities, so there needs to be more work with providers to make sure it can work. Providers will be worried that funding will not meet the expectations set out. The Government must remember that delivering safe childcare is not just a matter of social justice, but a matter of economic imperative. The key test for providers will be whether the funding still allows them to cover their costs – while balancing the books at the same time.
The fuel duty freeze is a result of FSB’s campaigning and the springboard small firms need to help navigate the difficult roads ahead. This will save them money and provide some breathing space, allowing them to focus on growth.
However, some of today’s smaller measures will benefit the economy. The increase in draught relief will go a long way to helping the Great British Pub. The enhanced R&D tax credit is a significant step towards promoting innovation. However, the large proportion of firms who fall outside of the 40% intensity threshold will be left feeling mystified by the change in policy since last Autumn. R&D tax credits have been the most effective industrial policy of the last ten years, creating cutting edge products and services in the small business community.
While there are some positive words in today’s Budget, the Government’s lack of support for small firms in critical areas is glaring. The Chancellor stressed that the UK is one of the best places to do business and we’ll avoid a technical recession this year – but small businesses need more ambition and more focus. Action is what counts if we are to reverse the 500,000 small businesses lost over the last two years. It’s high time the Government put small firms at the top of the agenda and lend them the necessary support on the path to economic recovery.
The Trades Union Congress, which represents 6 million workers, commented in the Budget: "Today’s budget saw the Chancellor speak about a high-wage and high-skills economy but do nothing to deliver it. The UK is still in the longest pay squeeze for more than 200 years. And our public services are still run-down and understaffed. There was no plan to get wages rising across the economy. Real wages will not return to 2008 levels until 2026. And the elephant in the room was the lack of funding for our public services and the pay rises needed to recruit and retain nurses, carers and teachers. The Chancellor should have announced measures to boost secure jobs, pay and skills. He should have provided a fully-funded workforce plan across our public services to recruit and retain key workers. And he should have set out an investment plan to rebuild our services – from fixing school buildings that are falling apart to restoring public health services. See full statement at: https://www.tuc.org.uk/blogs/budget-2023-was-it
The bad news is above, but there is good news according to most Tory MPs favourite magazine The Spectator: "But the good news from the OBR that the UK will avoid a technical recession this year isn't based on these domestic labour market reforms. Instead, it says we will end up importing far more workers from overseas than from those unemployed here, with 160,000 more than the independent forecaster was expecting just four months ago. Fraser Nelson says these figures 'suggest that the Tories will instead do precisely what they accused Labour of doing before 2010: relying on imported workers while leaving millions on benefits.'
What a pointless statement from the FSB no mention of increase in corporation taxes. Sadly people who work for the FSB have never done what they clients have e.g. run a business. This increase was pure insanity.
This budget is supposed to impress all those current Conservatives in the back and beyond by handing them crumbs while the millionaires and billionaires bathe in their £1bn pension relief fund. No mention of giving pay increases for the vast majority of public servants such as nurses and junior doctors. Childcare relief will come in but not before the next election so another jam tomorrow promise. And the OBR and the IFS agree that people will be poorer for at least the next two years. Will the electorate fall for the Conservative BS again next time? I bloody well hope not! Mind you Starmer, a slightly lesser shade of blue, failed again to impress by actually stating "the tories have nicked Labour policies". You couldn't make it up. These politicians today are an insult to the likes of Attlee and Nye Bevan who achieved more in six years than these clowns have in thirteen. They changed society for the better. These are just destroying the social fabric of this country in general and this town in particular: Very sad!
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