Back enterprise, reform business rates and simplify taxes, says FSB

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shutterstock.com/Elena Elisseeva

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the government to strengthen small business confidence by clearly and consistently backing enterprise.

The FSB’s recent quarterly survey shows that small business confidence is cooling in the face of deteriorating global economic headwinds and a plethora of domestic policy decisions.

Small businesses are being tested by a series of challenges which will drive up costs and increase burdens over the coming months. These include the introduction of the National Living Wage in April, pension auto-enrolment and changes to the tax treatment of dividends. On top of these, small firms still face an unreformed business rates system and the prospect of compulsory quarterly digital tax reporting.

The FSB is now calling on the Chancellor to use the Budget to boost business confidence, deliver fundamental reform of business rates and simplify the tax system.

Mike Cherry, policy director for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “In the face of a number of emerging global and domestic pressures, small businesses are looking to the Chancellor to back them through what are set to be challenging times ahead. Many are struggling to get to grips with the cumulative impact of a series of new tax and regulatory changes that are due to hit their business.

“In this climate, it’s crucial that the Chancellor uses the Budget to reassure small firms and boost their confidence so that they invest, create jobs and drive economic growth. This means no new major challenges that drive up costs and burdens. In addition, Mr Osborne must deliver on his promises to overhaul the business rates regime and simplify the tax system.”

“Ahead of the 2015 General Election, the Prime Minister and Chancellor both made unequivocal commitments to FSB members that they would make significant and fundamental changes to the business rates system. The current system is not fit for purpose, is unresponsive to economic circumstances, and is viewed as deeply unfair by the business community. While the Chancellor pushes ahead with plans to decentralise business rates, it’s absolutely vital the opportunity to introduce a fair nationwide system is not lost.”