In just over a fortnight all eyes will be on the Chancellor, George Osborne, as he makes his way to the dispatch box to deliver his final Budget of this Parliament. Here at the Forum, we recently submitted a list of asks to the Treasury based on what you, our small business members, told us you wanted to see.
While the economy may be in significantly better shape than it was when the coalition came to power, there is still a significant degree of business uncertainty. The forthcoming General Election and the possibility of an EU Referendum are making it difficult for many small businesses to plan ahead.
With further austerity measures on the horizon and deficit reduction remaining a key priority, the Chancellor has little room to manoeuvre. But we have made it clear that there are some key things Mr Osborne should look to do to provide the much need confidence boost many of you would like to see.
A fairer and simpler tax system
Your calls to create a fairer and simpler tax system form a key part of our Budget submission.
Many of you feel that further measures are needed to create a fairer tax system that ensures that ALL businesses pay their fair share. Suggested changes include continued steps to close tax loopholes and the introduction of the compulsory publication of tax records of the leading companies in the UK.
Better payment practices
Many of you also want to see further moves to introduce better payment practices and our submission includes calls to introduce the automatic addition of late payment charges for council invoices, as well as further moves to introduce e-invoicing across the public sector.
Reduced red tape
Despite government’s pledge to reduce red tape it still cost the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) £19.1 billion last year*. Therefore we have also included further calls to tackle the ongoing regulatory burden many of you face. This includes increased support from government bodies to help reduce the administrative time burden for small businesses and financial support for small businesses to offer shared parental leave.
In addition, with many of you facing new pension costs in the coming months, we have also sent a clear message to the Treasury that now is not the time to raise the National Minimum Wage above inflation.
Help to export
Whilst export may be seen by government as a key to economic growth, many of you still feel that it is prohibitively costly and there is little incentive given to encourage small firms to explore overseas trade possibilities.
Therefore we continue to press the Treasury to consider introducing tax incentives along the lines of the research and development credits, to encourage the growth needed to help the UK hit its export target of £1 billion by 2020.
With a forthcoming election looming large it is likely emphasis in the Budget will be on continued concessions for households, but we hope that the Chancellor will not lose sight of the need to provide small firms with a much needed confidence boost.
Keep an eye on the blog or follow us on Twitter @The_FPB on Wednesday, 18 March for comment and reaction on the Budget speech.
*Source: Forum of Private Business Referendum 208, Cost of Compliance