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Autumn Statement prediction 'A period of steady growth is in order' PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 20 November 2015

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement 2015, Mark Sismey-Durrant, Chief Executive Officer at Hampshire Trust Bank, calls for certainty on business rates, a fairer deal on fuel prices and cuts to business red tape to help SMEs. 

“As we tread cautiously on the road to recovery, the Chancellor needs to focus on creating a stable economy for the future, as well as a positive environment for SMEs to grow and prosper. As a challenger bank focussed on SMEs, we are committed to helping the country’s smaller businesses – which represent almost half of our economy. Their success is critical and predicated on an environment where they can look to the horizon and plan for growth. We are calling for the Chancellor to focus his efforts on driving growth and providing some certainty for SMEs in these still uncertain times.

“Uncertainty over the future of business rates, changing commitments on fuel prices and the increasing amount of red tape SMEs face, impact on businesses’ ability to plan ahead. This needs to be addressed and we hope the Chancellor will put himself in the shoes of the nation’s smaller businesses and help them focus on what they do best – running their businesses to drive GDP and job creation.”

Certainty on business rates
“One of the biggest announcements in the Summer Budget was that local councils would be handed full control of business rates in their area. Business rates are one of the biggest costs our SMEs face and their payment forms a critical part of financial planning. Yet while uncertainty rains over possible changes to business rate levels, businesses are left with a conundrum of save or spend at a time when investment is critical.

“Small businesses need security and stability to flourish and changing the business rates system may generate further confusion. We would like to see the Chancellor hold fire on devolving the business rates system further and to look more broadly before introducing any additional changes.”

A fairer deal on fuel
“Business owners welcomed the freeze on fuel duty, which was introduced as part of the Summer Budget. According to reports, an increase could have seen fuel prices rise by more than £5 per 50-litre tank and this would have left many SMEs, reliant on a small fleet of vehicles, in a difficult financial position.

“The freeze has created a period of stability for many small businesses, but is only in place until March 2016. With this in mind, we are calling on the Chancellor to extend the deadline and help keep our business owners on the road to growth.

“Since June last year oil prices have dropped by more than $50-per-barrel. Yet fuel prices in the UK have increased this year, rising from 108.4p per litre of unleaded petrol to 111.1p per litre today. Although this may seem like a small amount to many, to a business reliant upon its vehicles this price increase is significant. We would welcome action to cap these costs.”

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