The heat is on ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

Posted on 22 Nov 2011

The Federation of Small Businesses has upped the ante ahead of George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, telling the government that it needs to instil confidence and remove barriers.

John Walker, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), commented: “Conditions in the eurozone remain a major source of instability and uncertainty, but there are still actions the government can take to foster business confidence and remove barriers to job creation.”

“The Autumn Statement must bring in measures to address the longer-term structural issues that are holding back enterprise and job creation,” said Mr Walker. “For small businesses to welcome the statement, they need to see clear evidence that policies already announced are having an effect on the ground. Too often, good intentions are not translated into tangible benefits for businesses.”

Mr Walker continued: “The FSB has put forward proposals for a National Insurance Contributions holiday for firms hiring young workers.  Not only will this help to stop young people becoming detached from the labour market, but would also target tax incentives at the firms that need them most.”

“Any proposals brought forward on credit easing must address the issue of small firms’ access to finance, and not just offer additional funds for larger businesses.  It must also bring competition into the market, and start to break the stranglehold of the big banks.”

With youth unemployment breaking one million, the FSB believe that the priority of the government should be to adopt measures getting young people into work. The organisation fears that if this doesn’t happen, unemployed youth will become detached from the labour market.

The FSB is also calling on the Government to ensure that its credit easing policy will benefit small and start-up businesses. If targeted correctly, this could help to promote employment through allowing businesses to grow.

The FSB has pressed for the Government to act upon the Independent Commission on Banking recommendations to increase competition in all sectors of the banking market, and to look at ways of promoting alternative methods of credit for small companies looking to grow.

The FSB is also calling on the Government to:

  • Introduce a true fuel duty stabiliser which will trigger an actual reduction in the pump price. The FSB believes that the fair fuel stabiliser announced during the 2011 Budget does not go far enough, and the sheer volatility in price of fuel at the pumps means that businesses cannot plan overheads properly.
  • Continue on its better regulation agenda to create a regulatory culture which supports business and growth, especially looking at regulation that comes from Europe which will further discourage firms from taking on staff.
  • Look closely at the proposals from the Office of Tax Simplification to simplify the tax regime for the smallest of businesses, as complying with the tax system is one of the biggest burdens for this sector.
  • Reform the approach to procurement in order to give small firms better access to the £240 billion pot spent by the public sector. Currently, only 6.5% of central Government spend goes to small and medium-sized businesses, far from its 25% aspiration. An increase in public sector spend on small businesses of just 1% would target an additional £2.4 billion towards those firms.

Tom Moore