Tomorrow sees one of the biggest events on the business calendar: the Autumn Statement.
We submitted our proposals to the Chancellor some time ago which set out our stall quite clearly for a Statement able to deliver jobs and growth for the UK now, and in to the future.
Our five point plan concentrates on measures that will help the small business sector flourish by reducing costs, boosting private sector employment, and to lay the foundations for sustainable, positive economic growth.
First and foremost, headlining our submission, is a freeze in fuel duty. January’s 3p rise looms large, and frankly now is not the time for a 3p rise. In fact we can't think of a worse start to the New Year than with another crippling tax rise.
But we go further on this point. Because in addition, we think the Government has to revisit the concept of a fuel duty stabiliser, if not now, at least by the end of the current Parliament. There’s no other practical way to lessen the impact of high fuel prices which are hampering economic recovery in the UK.
We are also calling for a cap on business rates of 2%. High street retailers are under the cosh, and if the Chancellor doesn’t want them to become an endangered species he needs to offer them a helping hand in some way, shape, or form.
The Chancellor must act on this issue of rates to prevent a full blown crisis in the retailing sector. And let’s not forget, all businesses would benefit from a cap on rates to reduce their outgoings, so in terms of how much this would help, it’s massive.
We also think there needs to be a reduction in the costs of employment for business. This can be achieved by amending the current National Insurance holiday scheme which has had little success if you look at take-up.
We’ve outlined the need to encourage more small business to make the jump from sole trader to employer. That is incentivising sole traders to employ – making the jump between one man band to employer.
So rather than applying £5,000 for each of the first 10 employees hired in the first 12 months, as is the case now, the scheme should apply £5,000 for each of the first two new members of staff hired by a micro business in the UK, for each of their first two years of employment.
In our fourth point to the Chancellor, we are calling for plans that would mandate flexible working on all employers, regardless of their size, to be shelved for the time being.
Many businesses across the country already allow employees the option of flexible working where it works for their firm. Let’s just leave it at that, instead of asking more from businesses. Don’t forget, auto enrolment starts next year and that’s more than enough for firms to content with.
Finally, we’re asking the Chancellor for further incentives for private lenders through alternative sources of finance. This would encourage less reliance on main stream lending, and we all know that the banks are being pretty mean with their money at the minute. We don’t think that’s likely to change in the near future either.
So credible alternatives to traditional lending would help many, many firms, not to grow necessarily, but to survive and consolidate through the lean times.
So come on George, let’s see what you can do on Wednesday.