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Budget 2011 lacks punch for SMEs

Promises were made, headlines generated, but have small and medium-sized businesses got what they wanted from Budget 2011?

The “bonfire of red tape” is a welcome move, in particular the targeting of the UK’s infamously complicated tax codes. However, could this simplification have gone further? 100 pages have been removed from the UK code, yes, but when the document stands at 10,000 pages, this deletion is not as grand a gesture as it first sounds.

A similar analysis can be made of the decision to reduce fuel duty by 1p per litre and deferment of future rises. Yes, it’s good that the Chancellor has done something to help small businesses whose finances are under pressure from rising fuel costs, but could he have done more? How about reducing fuel duty by 10 or 20p? That would have made a real difference to SMEs.

So, while small businesses will be pleased to hear about new rules exempting some from new domestic regulation for three years, the drop in corporation tax to 23% by 2014 (making it the lowest in the G7), the attack on red tape and the launch of Start-up Britain, a new body designed to help people start and grow a business, there is the sense that the Budget 2011 represents merely a good start and that more needs to be done if “Made in Britain” really is to drive economic growth.

So, while the government certainly put on a good show, its punches lacked power.

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