CEO comment: Budget doesn’t go far enough to support future of UK SMEs

Angus Dent, CEO of ArchOver: “The Tory party’s promise to put an end to austerity has been revealed as simply words, not actions. Hammond’s plans for putting an end to a decade of under-funding do not go far enough – definitive action and continued investment is needed as a lifeline for struggling SMEs and savers.

“The Chancellor’s reduction of business rates is music to the ears of SMEs around the country. This time last year, the Chancellor announced the expansion of the National Investment Fund for business – and if that doesn’t ring any bells, you aren’t alone. A definitive step forward like reducing business rates is long overdue – particularly for small retailers struggling on the British high street. But this isn’t enough to cure a decade of difficulty for UK SMEs.

“While it could be seen as damaging for the Chancellor to offer businesses something that could derail negotiations with the EU, this doesn’t mean to say that he shouldn’t. Once Brexit negotiations are on the straight and narrow, the government needs to demonstrate that it believes in the future of British business.

“The best way to prove this would be to announce a mini-budget focused on advancing SMEs in a still-struggling economy. The Chancellor desperately needs to convince the rest of the world that the UK is still a competitive place to do business – or he risks putting the future of UK businesses in jeopardy. The Chancellor’s corporation tax reduction is the first step in the right direction for British businesses. With the strong likelihood that tariff bearings will go up, a reduction in corporation tax will reduce unnecessary friction that disproportionately affects SME owners.

“Without further concrete action from the government, SMEs are being left in the cold to fend for themselves. To battle the chill, businesses must turn to alternative finance options to give them the tools and funding they need to succeed – but nothing will reassure them more than support from their government in turbulent times.”