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What SMEs want from the Autumn Budget 2017

The Autumn Budget 2017 is another chance to give the SME sector a much-needed fillip. What areas should the chancellor focus on? Raising awareness of alternative finance should be a priority.

So, what do SMEs want from the second budget of the year? Probably exactly the same things as they wanted from the first one. The Spring Budget addressed some key issues but the general consensus was that it didn’t go far enough. After a tumultuous six months, the November budget is an opportunity to give the SME sector the shot-in-the-arm they so keenly need.

High up on the list, if not top of it, is likely to be easing concerns relating to Brexit. Events since the first budget of the year have done nothing to make the situation any clearer; if anything, the uncertainty has grown.

The British Chambers of Commerce has already had its say, claiming that businesses need competence and coherence, not division and disorganisation, which is a statement that speaks a thousand words as to the impact of Brexit, and the government’s Brexit strategy, on the market and small businesses. One of the country’s leading businessmen has been unequivocal in his opinion on the effect of Brexit.

Being more specific, another priority for small business owners is bringing down the costs of doing business. Small businesses face a range of financial burdens at a time of underwhelming market performance. Perhaps top of the list of concerns is business rates. Attempts by the government to address the issue this year have been ham fisted; a clearer strategy, with an emphasis on affordability, is needed.

The pressure heaped on small businesses by government policies is something that has also been flagged up by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and London Sadiq Khan has recently gone on record warning against business rate hikes. As well as business rates, the FSB points to costs relating to pension auto-enrolment, minimum wage requirements and national insurance contributions. Cyber-security, late payment and compliance with new apprenticeship legislation could be added to this list.

Another area of action that the SME sector should be pressuring the chancellor to address more effectively is small business finance and in particular awareness of alternative finance. Non-bank finance has become an important part of the SME finance landscape, with the likes of invoice finance, asset finance and peer-to-peer lending leading the way. However, as much as these services are proving a lifeline to many small businesses, awareness remains an issue.

At a time when growth and forward momentum is so important to SMEs and the UK business sector in general, it is vital that business owners are aware of all funding options available to them. This is why the chancellor has to address the subject in the Autumn Budget.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services, contact us on 01903 602211 or info@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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