The Chancellor steers a steady course for small businesses

Basingstoke Gazette: Neil Eames, development manager for the FSB Wessex Region Neil Eames, development manager for the FSB Wessex Region

THE Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed the 2014 Budget believing it shows progress on economic recovery and maintains the momentum for growth aspirations.

Neil Eames, development manager for the FSB Wessex Region, said: “This was always going to be a steady Budget for business, and the Chancellor has delivered a Budget to maintain positive momentum in the economy, while incorporating fiscal prudence.

“Today's Budget offered a clear signal for businesses to grow through the increased investment allowance, and with a focus on manufacturing.

“The £7 billion package to cut manufacturing energy bills will help create jobs and strengthen this key sector.

“Cheaper energy bills for manufacturers, supporting investment and road improvements will help small firms.”

With regards to business investment, Mr Eames said reducing the corporation tax rate will make the UK a more attractive investment opportunity for overseas investors.

And, with around 57 per cent of FSB members wanting to grow in the next 12 months, doubling the Annual Investment Allowance for small firms to the end of 2015 will provide certainty and allow them to realise their investment expectations.

Recent FSB research showed that only two per cent of members knew about the recent increase to £250,000 – meaning most firms had not taken advantage of it.

Mr Eames said: “This change should encourage greater investment, and key for Government now is to increase communication about the allowance to encourage take-up.”

He said support for exporters is needed to meet the export targets the Government has set.

“Funnelling more money to businesses will enable many of them to increase their exporting activity,” said Mr Eames.

“This needs a sustained effort to give small firms the confidence to take the first step and enter a new market.”

On the issues of road investment and flooding the FSB say that over half – 54 per cent – of its members say problems with the UK’s road infrastructure costs their business up to £2,500 a year, while a fifth say it has cost more.

Recent flood damage has exacerbated the problem. The £200 million fund to repair potholes shows the Government is finally recognising the more prominent transport challenges for small firms and the importance of local roads to run and grow their business. “The Government has been very supportive towards businesses and households hit by the severe flooding earlier this year,” said Mr Eames.

“But small businesses will remain at a disadvantage at not being included in the Flood Re scheme.”

Businesses in flood-hit areas were hit with an average cost of £1,531. More than a third – 37 per cent –of FSB members in these areas expect it to be more difficult to renew their insurance and more than half – 59 per cent – expect their insurance to become more expensive as a result of being left out of the Flood Re support scheme.

The FSB aims to protect and promote the interests of the entrepreneurs who run their own businesses.

Its Wessex Region covers Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight and represents around 10,000 members.

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