Use Autumn Statement to support small businesses, govt urged

Thursday 22 November 2012

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has outlined a five-point plan to help deliver jobs and growth for the UK economy.

Ahead of George Osborne's Autumn Statement, the lobby organisation has published its wish-list for government support of the private sector.

The FPB is urging the Chancellor to concentrate on measures that will help the small business sector flourish - by reducing business costs, boosting employment and laying the foundations for sustainable economic growth.

Firstly, the forum wants to see Mr Osborne make a "serious and credible announcement" on fuel duty, and commit to the concept of a duty stabiliser by the end of the current parliament.

It is also calling for a cap on business rates of two per cent, in order to relieve the pressure faced by high street retailers.

Such businesses have never been under more pressure due to increased competition from online traders and supermarkets, the FPB claimed.

The forum said the Chancellor must act on the issue of rates to prevent a full-blown crisis in the retailing sector, noting that all businesses would benefit from a cap on rates to reduce their outgoings.

Thirdly, the FPB is calling for a reduction in the costs of employment for business by amending the current National Insurance holiday scheme.

Abandoning plans that would mandate flexible working on all employers, regardless of their size, would also help, the forum said.

Finally, the FPB is asking for further incentives for private lenders through alternative sources of finance.

Theoretically, this would encourage less reliance on mainstream lending, thereby reducing small business addiction to shrinking levels of traditional lending streams.

Alex Jackman, head of policy at the FPB, said the Autumn Statement offers a chance for the Chancellor to make amends for the disappointment that was the March Budget, and really show he understands the challenges the economy faces.

"Much of that will be real acknowledgement that government is doing everything in its power to reduce the cost of doing business for small business," he stated.

The Autumn Statement 2012 will be made at Westminster by George Osborne on Wednesday December 5th at 12:30 GMT.

Posted by Dan Smith