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Autumn statement must provide the short-term costs support small firms need ahead of more ambitious reforms following the election, says Forum

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in December, national business group the Forum of Private Business has written to George Osborne with a list of top business wants that will provide much needed the short-term support needed ahead of next May’s General Election. 

Further action on tax and late payment are key calls featured in the Forum’s submission. On late payment the Forum is calling for measures to ensure that councils apply interest charges to late payments to any contractor automatically without them needing to request. The Forum also wants to see the government scrap plans to authorise HMRC powers to recover funds directly from small business bank accounts.

In addition, The Forum is calling for continued support in reducing business costs including another cap on business rates for the remainder of this Parliament. In a recent survey around a quarter of its members believed that property taxation remains too high and the Forum is also calling on the government to invest in a new online platform that would make it easier for small firms to pay, apply discounts and facilitate easier challenges to the Valuation Office.

The document also includes calls for a continued commitment to freeze fuel duty until May 2015, further moves to push ahead with e-invoicing and incentives to encourage small businesses to export.

Commenting on the submission, Phil Orford MBE, Chief Executive of the Forum of Private Business, said:

“Despite the recovery continuing to gain momentum, rising costs are still affecting our members. Our recent member survey suggests that prices have risen far faster for micro, small and medium sized employers at 4.7% well above the current rate of inflation. Our members continue to absorb rising prices and fewer have been able to pass on the costs to their customers, and prices are only expected to rise over the next year.

“Whilst our members realise that the government still face difficult decisions when it comes to deficit reduction, they have a vital part to play in ensuring a sustainable recovery and would like to see the Chancellor take action to mitigate the cost impacts for the business over the next year.

“These short term measures to support rising business costs will be welcome and should come ahead of more ambitious support in party manifestos.”

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