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.
Chief executive of the Forum Ian Cass 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 commented that it is looking to the Chancellor to befriend entrepreneurs and small business owners for their hard work, risk taking and economic contribution to the country.
“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; the Forum of Private Business is calling on Mr Hammond to take more action to reward entrepreneurs and small business owners for their efforts,” added Ian Cass.
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 budget wish list call.
The Forum has persistently lobbied for the over complicated tax system to be made easier for a small business owner to manage and for it to be applied consistently across all businesses.
Ian Cass added: “We have become used to too many big businesses avoiding their tax responsibilities by employing expensive advisors and using complex avoidance schemes. Small and 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 businesses competitors; we are again looking to the Chancellor to simplify the tax system and create a level playing field.
“Recruiting the right skills is one of the key blockers to the growth of small businesses. The Forum is asking the Chancellor to act to ensure that we have a skilled workforce available for business – whether that be through employees from other countries or by improving the links between education and business to provide better education and training at schools and colleges to fill the skill gaps,” stated Ian Cass.
“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.
“Employees now focus much more on good employment conditions. The Forum encourages initiatives such as good preventative health care for employees, which not only favours the employee and supports growth but also helps the government manage the burden on health budgets. The Chancellor needs to ensure that the tax breaks for this type of activity are retained.”
The final point on the Forum wish list follows the recent Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine announcements, in looking to see a rebalancing of the UK economy.
Emphasising the value of the regional economy, Cass concluded: “There are more independent small businesses outside of London than there are in London; a better distribution of the funding and support from central government is imperative as we get Britain, as a whole, trading again.”