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Good Autumn Budget 2017 not good enough for SMEs?

The second Budget of 2017 was much better for SMEs than the first one. Not too difficult a task, and for all the positives for small business owners, it is hard to see past the headline statements concerning growth and productivity.

The benefits for SMEs were numerous and Autumn Budget 2017 has been received as a solid one for businesses. However, for all of Philip Hammonds’ efforts to win over small business owners, there is a feeling that the purpose of this charm offensive, partly at least, was to deflect attention away from the slashing of growth forecasts and disappointing outlook for productivity.

And then there’s Brexit planning. The boost to the Brexit preparation fund is certainly eye catching, to the tune of £3 billion, but there is a good argument to be made that the allocation of such a vast sum will further unnerve the business sector rather than reassure it. It is not hard to infer that the Chancellor is planning for the worst.

Furthermore, small business owners would probably prefer to see some of the Brexit billions spent on tackling key SME issues, including those that slipped through the Chancellor’s net this time, such as late payment.

In addition, while tech companies benefited notably from the Budget, other SMEs are likely to see it in less glowing terms, particularly those for which Brexit and high inflation represent major challenges. Yes, there was good news about business rates and VAT, but the prospect of continued insipid economic performance rather takes the shine off.

What is clear is that to grow and prosper, small business owners are going to need all the finance options available to them, and this includes non-bank finance. In this respect, the measures to increase business funding, including a £2.5 billion boost to the British Business Bank, are certainly welcome, but there is plenty more that can be done in terms of alternative finance service sector development.

The likes of invoice finance, asset finance, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding are established SME funding facilities – firms are using the services for a range of purposes, including for investing in new equipment – and given the outlook for economic growth and productivity, small business owners are going to need them more than ever.

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

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