Firms send SoS to Sunak

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Business forums and leading business people are urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to unveil schemes to help small and medium businesses…reports Asian Lite News

Chancellor Rishi Sunak must use Wednesday’s Spring Statement to help businesses tackle unprecedented cost pressures head on, leading business forums and captains of the industry said.

Reports suggest Mr Sunak is set to cut fuel duty in a bid to stave off a cost of living crisis, after petrol and diesel prices reached record highs over the past fortnight.

“The economic consequences of the pandemic are still being felt by small businesses, whose ability to make up for lost time and income has been undermined by a vicious cycle of rising costs,” said Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

 “Consumer confidence has plunged and the cost-of-living squeeze has intensified, with record fuel prices and sky-high utility bills meaning loss of disposable income. Small businesses increasingly feel that the Government is indifferent to the cost pressures they face.

 “The planned hikes to national insurance and dividend taxation taking effect in a matter of days, alongside an income tax threshold freeze, will, for many, be the final straw. Increasing the Employment Allowance, upping the small business rates relief threshold on rates, and taking action on surging fuel and utility bills would all help.

 “‘Pay as you grow’ options to spread the pressure of debt repayments should be opened up to users of other state-backed loan schemes beyond just bounce-backs. We urgently need to see the Chancellor ease the pressure on the five and a half million small firms and sole traders on which our recovery will depend.” 

The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce has issued a six-point plan it would like to see the Chancellor introduce in a bid to help firms cope with soaring costs.

The GBCC is calling on the Chancellor to take the following actions:

@ Introduce an energy price cap for businesses

@ Provide SMEs with energy grants

@ Introduce additional support for energy efficiency

@ Delay planned National Insurance rises for a year

@ Continue reform of the business rates system

@ Extend the VAT reduction for hospitality businesses

Raj Kandola, head of policy at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “Often viewed as a minor fiscal event in relation to the Autumn Budget, the crisis in Ukraine coupled with the escalation of the cost of living crisis means the importance of the Spring Statement has been elevated to a whole new level.

 “Whereas as the Chancellor has preached the importance of fiscal rectitude over the previous few months,  the ongoing fallout from Covid-19, rocketing levels of inflation and sky-high energy bills means businesses are facing unprecedented cost pressures – as early analysis from our latest Quarterly Business Report survey reveals.

 “Right now, we need the Government to act decisively and tackle these issues head on – implementing our six-point plan would give businesses the breathing space they need to get back on their feet and plan ahead with a modicum of certainty.

 “As always the Chamber will be on hand to provide a full breakdown of the announcements made on the day and the potential impact they are likely to have businesses in the region.”

Pvt. Sector Investments

The industry body responsible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), the EIS Association (EISA) is calling for the Chancellor to recognise the importance of private sector investment into the UK’s early stage growth businesses.

The Enterprise Investment Scheme supports the Government’s growth agenda by helping early stage, high risk UK companies to attract the investment needed to grow their businesses.

In the current difficult market conditions for entrepreneurs, assurances of the availability of the EIS incentives for investors is critical to the UK’s continued standing as a world leader in innovation.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak Post Budget visit Teesport. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak visit Teesport in Teeside the day after the 2021 Budget. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

The EISA is calling on the Chancellor to give reassurances in one principal area:

@ A commitment that every effort will be made to ensure the continuation of the EIS scheme beyond the current sunset clause of 2025.

Director General of the EISA, Christiana Stewart-Lockhart commented, “We all recognise that the Chancellor has an enormous job to do given the current economic challenges, and ensuring that we support the country’s growth businesses, bringing with them employment, profitability and tax income is crucial to our economic recovery. Making the EIS permanent would provide some much-needed certainty for early stage companies looking to raise equity and for the individuals investing in them. At the top of our wish list is confirmation that the scheme will be extended beyond 2025, so that both entrepreneurs and investors can plan their future for the benefit of the economy as a whole.”

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