Autumn Statement is SMB-friendly, says FSB

Wednesday 5 December 2012

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed the Autumn Statement delivered today (Wednesday December 5th) by Chancellor George Osborne.

John Walker, national chairman of the lobby group, said the government is taking a number of positive steps to encourage small and medium-sized business growth (SMB).

He said it was a positive development for the Chancellor to acknowledge that SMBs - which account for 99 per cent of all UK companies - need additional help and support.

"We accept that bold actions are needed to boost the economy and we hope we are on the right road to helping small firms," Mr Walker said.

In his view, the Chancellor has listened to many of the concerns of SMBs, and put forward proposals to address the major issues.

Measures designed to help SMBs

Mr Osborne told MPs that capital allowances are being increased in order to help SMB owners invest in the future of their enterprises.

Businesses looking to purchase new equipment, machinery and vehicles will get a tenfold increase in the amount they can invest tax free.

"This will boost investment which is needed to grow the economy and create jobs," Mr Walker claimed.

He described this as "a step in the right direction" and recognition of the important role SMBs will play in the recovery.

Another popular announcement this afternoon was the scrapping of the planned - and much criticised - 3p per litre fuel duty rise, which was set to come into force in the new year.

Mr Walker said that with eight in ten SMBs relying on their vehicle for work, it is vital that they are able to afford petrol and diesel.

"Over half of small businesses believe that rising fuel prices are one of the main reasons for increased business costs," he stated.

"Government needs to take the politics out of fuel prices once and for all and look at ways of raising revenue that gives road users greater certainty as to what their overheads will be from one Budget to the next."

Supporting SMBs trading overseas

The government aims to support SMB growth by increasing access to finance for small business exporters.

"Further export finance will help them secure the contracts they win overseas," Mr Walker stated.

He said the new £1.5 billion export finance facility should provide finance to businesses promptly.

Mr Walker said it should be coupled with an awareness-raising drive involving UK Export Finance and the main banks to make sure SMBs know about the products available.

More information about the new business bank is likely to be publicised over the coming weeks, he noted.

"While the bank will help to house all government finance initiatives, meaning they are better signposted for small firms, it should also improve competition in the sector," Mr Walker said.

"For small businesses to grow and help economic recovery, they need better access to finance as it is clear that start-ups and the smallest firms still struggle to access finance they need."

Posted by Steve Williams