Autumn Statement: Business stands to win

There was a positive response from the business industry to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Chiefly, the promise to look at the unpopular business rate system chimed with business owners and commentators, including the FSB.

“The FSB is delighted to see the double small business rate relief remain for another year and a full review of the outdated business rates system, something we’ve long argued for,” says its chairman John Allan.

National Insurance is set to be abolished for apprentices too. Mr Osborne said: “When a business is giving a young person a chance in life we’re going to support them not tax them.” In order to avoid the 50%+ youth unemployment rates in other countries across Europe, this feels like a sensible step. More could probably be done to align the education system to the future needs of the economy though, in industries like digital.

The Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) came under fire though. Since its inception, it has failed to increase net lending to businesses. We’ve said many times that banks simply can’t make commercial sense of small business loans, so they are not inclined to do them. That’s why the alternative finance community is so vital to the growth of the UK SME market.

Perhaps the only element to concern businesses is the increasing pressure to raise wages as the cost of living comes into the spotlight. Where this translates into acquiring or retaining top talent it should be welcomed, so owners should be mindful of the need to balance their recruitment plans with the financial health of the business as media pressure for pay rises will only increase.

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