The National Enterprise Network, representing the agencies that support many of the country’s small and start up businesses, is looking to the Chancellor to entice small business owners in this week’s Autumn Statement, alongside the other budget relaxations he has flagged, with the prospect of a general election on the horizon.
NEN Chairman Alex Till said: “Over 53% of the country’s employment comes from the small business sector. Many small businesses are currently suffering from the uncertainty around Brexit. They are holding back investment, and delaying any employment plans. Employees are nervous about the safety of their jobs, as smaller businesses are less able to plan for the inevitable disruption that is likely to occur as we exit Europe. The last thing we need is a further burden on business to fund giveaways in other areas, all aimed at wooing voters.”
Mr Till says the NEN is encouraging the Chancellor to look at four key areas:
- Raising the VAT threshold: “There has been comment that the Chancellor may look to halve the VAT threshold. Quite the reverse is required if small businesses are to grow and thrive. Reducing the limit would act as a death knell to many micro businesses, who simply would not then be able to compete with their major corporate competitors,” says Mr Till.
- Clarify the requirements of the current review into the IR35 regulations. Many freelancer businesses are precisely that, and are not employees. As the review progresses there is a sense of unease hitting the freelance market, and a clear explanation of exactly what is and isn’t required would help them plan.
- Applying a ‘lite’ regulation regime to small businesses. Small and micro businesses do not have the resource available to them to manage compliance and regulation issues in the same way that their large competitors do, and they struggle with the plethora of regulatory requirements on them. Simplification would help them concentrate on their businesses rather than on ‘form filling’.
- An overhaul of the Business Rates. There has been extensive commentary on the way in which Business Rates currently favour the large online businesses which are responsible for the ‘death of the high street’, yet consistently fail to pay their way on taxes.
He added: “We are looking for the Chancellor, once and for all, to undertake the long-promised review of Business Rates and recognise how penal they are for smaller businesses looking to grow, and regenerate our high streets.”