A post-budget vote in Kent by 100 business people revealed that 80% of them were more confident about the prospects for the economy in the South East than at this time last year.
But looked at closely, there was very little in the budget that was likely to make things any easier for the UK’s SMEs, which account for more than half our output and two thirds of all employment.
Admittedly, direct lending from government to UK businesses to promote exports was doubled to £3bn and interest rates on that lending cut by a third and business rate discounts and enhanced capital allowances in enterprise zones were extended for three years. But how many SMEs will benefit from these measures?
Admittedly also, some small builders may benefit from the extension to Help to Buy until 2020 and the “support” for the building of more than 200,000 new homes.
But there was not a word about the review of business rates that had been pressed for by so many businesses, not only High Street Retailers, in the days leading up to the Budget statement, nor about the previously oft-repeated promises to reduce red tape.
Given that the Chancellor himself has conceded that economic recovery is built on very fragile foundations is such an increase in confidence on the part of the businesses of Kent a case of too much too soon?