Ensuring smooth sailing: business groups urge the chancellor to back British SMEs

With the spring budget only a month away, the business community is encouraging Philip Hammond to safeguard its future

Ensuring smooth sailing: business groups urge the chancellor to back British SMEs

March might be three weeks away but it’s already gearing up to be decisive month for the future for corporate Britain. Not only has Theresa May pledged to trigger Article 50 next month but Philip Hammond will also reveal his inaugural spring budget on March 8. So it’s no wonder that industry groups championing UK SMEs are now urging the chancellor to ensure the continuous growth of entrepreneurial Britain.

With the EU referendum having forced firms to face market uncertainties since July, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the non-profit organisation championing British businesses, has submitted suggestions to the chancellor to ensure the growth and stability of British SMEs in the tumultuous times ahead. Amongst other suggestions, it urged the government to commit to a new funding plan for technical education to bridge the country’s tech talent gap and clarify its intentions for business tax. It also wants to see a boost in investment in research and development to help make the UK become a more attractive place to do business.

Through these measures, the CBI believes the government can safeguard itself from losing business if the economy takes a tumble. “Prioritising stability will inject further confidence in the economy now, and help boost the country’s productivity and prosperity for the future,” said Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI. “While the economy has proved resilient, inflation is rising and growth is set to slow. As uncertainty around the manner of our EU exit dampens investment and higher inflation erodes consumer spending growth, the government must show that it is serious about supporting companies to invest, to help our regions and nations prosper.”

And the CBI wasn’t the only organisation to submit suggestions to the chancellor. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the organisation supporting British SMEs, has called for a pro-business budget that boosts jobs and long-term growth. The group has identified three areas of concern that could hamper the stability of British businesses: the increase in the national living wage, auto-enrolment and the rise of national insurance contributions. “At [the] spring budget 2017, our entrepreneurial culture is on the line.,” said Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB. ““[The] spring budget 2017 is a critical moment for the government to show it is unashamedly pro-business and that the chancellor recognises that small businesses are the engines of job creation.”

With SMEs in the UK’s top ten cities expected to contribute £217bn to the economy by 2020, Hammond is well-advised to keep the interests of entrepreneurs close at heart.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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