Measures to get high streets trading again top the Forum of Private Business’ Budget wish list
The Forum of Private Business is positioning the chancellor’s red budget box firmly in the high street as it lobbies on behalf of the independent businesses impacted by the business rates changes on the eve of the Budget.
Ian Cass, chief executive of the forum, said: “Bit by bit, small businesses are being strangled by new regulations and costs. The increased business rates burden will be the death knell for many, and we are looking for the chancellor to bring in measures to help those faced by the biggest increases, and for a better rapid appeals process to be introduced.
“Small businesses are a critical part of our overall economy, and we would also like to see the government lead a wider discussion on the future of Britain’s high streets and include this as part of their industrial strategy.”
Second to business rates, rather than adding more costs and penalties, the forum is looking to the chancellor to befriend entrepreneurs and small business owners for their hard work, risk-taking and economic contribution to the country.
Ian continued: “Despite the current uncertainties, the will is there to get Britain trading again, with investors looking to support new initiatives, and independent business owners ready to commit the hours, sweat and tears. Never have private businesses been so important for employment creation and economic contribution, and the forum is calling on Mr Hammond to take more action to reward entrepreneurs and small business owners for their efforts.”
Linked to freeing up business owners to drive for growth rather than spend their time on form-filling, the forum is making a plea for simplification of the tax system their third wish list call.
Ian added: “The Forum has persistently lobbied for the over-complicated tax system to be made easier for small business owners to manage, and for it to be applied consistently across all businesses.
“We have become used to too many big businesses avoiding their tax responsibilities by employing expensive advisors and using complex avoidance schemes. Small, independent businesses have neither the luxury of such advisors, nor the know-how to reduce their tax bills. They have to deal with the complexities and costs of the tax laws themselves. The cost and compliance burden on small businesses is heavily disproportionate when compared with their big business competitors, and we are again looking to the chancellor to simplify the tax system and create a level playing field.”
Skills are fourth on the forum wish list, while championing good business practice for employees is fifth, aimed at attracting and retaining quality employees in independent businesses and avoiding the drain created by them being drawn by attractive terms in big business.
The final point on the wish list follows the recent Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine announcements, in looking to see a rebalancing of the UK economy.
Ian concluded: “There are more independent small businesses outside of London than there are in the capital, and a better distribution of the funding and support from central government is imperative as we get Britain, as a whole, trading again.”