Reduced business rates, reformed reliefs and coronavirus support are top of the wish lists for small businesses ahead of today’s Budget.
Rishi Sunak will deliver his first Budget as chancellor today amid the coronavirus outbreak as well as pressure to fulfil the Conservative election manifesto commitments for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Conservative manifesto ahead of the general election in December 2019 pledged to increase the employment allowance from the current £3,000 off a national insurance tax bill, reduce business rates, and review entrepreneurs’ relief, which gives business owners a lower rate of capital gains tax when selling their business.
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Lobby group the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said SMEs are hoping for the employment allowance to be increased, that business rates will decline and that entrepreneurs relief will be preserved.
The FSB is also hoping the chancellor will introduce a statutory sick pay rebate, or equivalent, for small employers and provide more flexibility for firms having to pay taxes, loans and overdrafts if they are hit by the coronavirus.
It is also suggesting a temporary cut in value added tax (VAT) if consumer demand drops.
“Today’s Budget is the Chancellor’s first big test, and an opportunity to show he is unequivocally on the side of the small business community at an uncertain time,” said Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB.
“Supporting small firms that are being impacted by the spread of coronavirus means both introducing new, targeted measures and delivering on existing promises.
“The horse has already bolted in many countries, so it’s critical that the chancellor takes action now to mitigate any future escalation of the situation here in the UK.
“We also need to see this Budget deliver on the manifesto promises made to UK small businesses and the self-employed in the run-up to the election.
“With a new financial year, fresh living wage increases and business rates hikes for many taking effect next month, we need to see government – local and national – and HMRC pulling out all the stops to assist small firms.
“Levelling up starts with supporting small businesses and the self-employed: our country’s everyday entrepreneurs. They are looking for the help that was promised to them on the election trail.
“The success of our economy in uncertain times starts with the success of the small firms that make-up 99 per cent of our business community – they create two thirds of new jobs.
“This needs to be a small business Budget.”