Budget reaction – Forum of Private Business statement
Phil Orford, the chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, has issued the following statement in response to today’s Budget announcement.
Mr Orford said: “While it’s clear that the Government has been listening to our messages about small businesses in the recovery, there’s a sense that this was a budget for an election and the Government is courting the small business vote.
“It would have been more encouraging to see some real political responsibility and measures to address difficult issues, like public sector pensions, which we need to tackle in order to keep the UK competitive in the longer term.
“My initial reaction is that there was quite a bit of give, give, give in the Budget but nothing new – and nothing to address the serious issues this country faces.
“Of course, I would give a cautious welcome to the way the Chancellor acknowledged the importance of smaller businesses to economic recovery. The small business-friendly measures he announced should be helpful – HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme and prompt payment by Government bodies emerged as the two most popular forms of Government support in a survey of our members this month.
“The creation of an adjudicator for firms to go to when they are denied credit by the banks should be useful. But more importantly, we need a clear signal from the banks within the next few days as to how they are going to deliver these new commitments to small business lending – specifically relating to the risk assessment criteria they apply to borrowing applications.
“It was also hugely disappointing to hear that the National Insurance increase will still be going ahead, together with the bureaucratic burden small businesses face in administering its threshold.
“Small businesses will also have been dismayed by the decision to plough ahead with increases in fuel duty, which came despite Alistair Darling’s earlier acknowledgement of the damage high oil prices are wreaking on the economy.
“Additionally, the Chancellor made no acknowledgement of the regulatory burden smaller businesses face and the urgent need for a re-think of workplace legislation.”