A Budget for business?

Businesses were asked by Enterprise Nation what they wanted from today’s spring budget and of course they came up with a long wish list.

It included raising the VAT threshold from the current £85,000 turnover level, providing more access to financing options like grants and low-interest loans, encouraging technology adoption to boost productivity and creating affordable working spaces and small business hubs.

These were at the top of a long wish list and it was unlikely they would get everything they wanted.

A YouGov poll also found that two in five businesses expected that the budget would leave them worse off: “SMEs are a little more cynical – 36% anticipate that the Budget will make life more difficult for businesses.”

In addition, the poll found “Some 51% said it wasn’t doing enough to support micro businesses, with 61% saying the same of smaller enterprises and a further 34% saying the same of medium-sized businesses.”

So, did the budget deliver?

The VAT registration threshold will be increased from £85,000 to £90,000 from the start of April.

£120m was allocated for green industries to develop technologies including offshore windfarms and carbon capture and storage projects.

Fuel duty was frozen again, with the 5p cut in fuel duty on petrol and diesel, due to end later this month, kept for another year.

On the whole though, it was a low-key budget.

The FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) reaction was basically “some good news but there were still serious challenges”.

The FSB policy chair said: ““We welcome today’s increase in the VAT threshold as well as the cut to self-employed National Insurance Contributions (NICs). Elsewhere, we were pleased to see a package of small business support in the Budget documents, including commitments to make progress on the HMRC administrative burden and on the national roll-out of the Business Energy Advice Service, as well as extending the Recovery Loan Scheme under a new name – the Growth Guarantee Scheme. Small firms are crucial for economic growth, and we were glad the Chancellor said that clearly from the despatch box.

“That said, many of those running businesses face serious challenges – not least through rapid hikes in labour and input costs – and many will have understandably hoped that there would be more measures announced today that would help ease the tough decisions small employers are having to make day-in day-out to keep their businesses going.”

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