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What do SMEs want from the 2023 Autumn Statement?

The Autumn Statement comes at an interesting time. SMEs are desperate for some relief at the end of a turgid year and the government is keen to generate some goodwill ahead of the 2024 general election. What do firms want and what will they get?

Tax cuts, VAT reform and R&D changes in store for SMEs?

With a few days to go, according to reports, the small business sector can look forward to some tax cuts in the forthcoming Autumn Statement, including the possibility of a rise in the VAT threshold to £90,000 and extensions to the EIS and VCT initiatives.

Elsewhere, there is talk of an update on the future of Making Tax Digital, following the delays announced around this year last time, while some commentators are forecasting movement around research and development schemes. More definitively, the rise in the Living Wage scheduled for spring 2024 should be rubberstamped.

Overall, SMEs may well see the most favourable Autumn Statement for a while, partly at least as the government attempts to curry favour. Whatever the motivation behind any such developments, the sector will undoubtedly welcome measures that relieve some of the pressure on them after another very challenging year.

Are these the areas that the government should be focusing on?

However, small business Autumn Statement wishes are likely to go further than what is being forecast. For example, there is a large segment of the sector that would like to see affirmative action on business rates in the form of wide-ranging reform that brings a fair charging infrastructure. Will it happen? It would certainly be a crowd-pleaser.

Another opportunity for the government to spread some almost-seasonal cheer is to get a firmer grip on the SME late payment problem. A swathe of new rules is due this quarter and the Autumn Statement represents an obvious window for announcing what should be positive news in addressing an issue that is costing firms over £32 billion.

Accessing SME finance and how alternative lenders can help

Of course, all will be revealed on Wednesday afternoon. And small businesses will be hoping that the Chancellor announces measures that will give them a much-needed boost and help them safeguard cashflow and ringfence capital for investment.

Yet, at the same time, owners and management are unlikely to holding their collective breath. Recent mismanagement and previous statements guard against setting expectations too high.

As such, it is important that when it comes to financial planning and ensuring access to finance, businesses are proactive and comprehensive in their strategizing. This is where alternative finance can help.

Services such as invoice finance, asset finance and peer-to-peer lending are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses in the current funding climate (with 65% more SMEs experiencing difficulty in accessing finance from high-street banks as of August 2023).

These alternative finance facilities, which offer a more easily accessible, affordable and personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and target recovery, stability and growth.

This profile has helped cement the reputation of alternative finance in the business sector, with a new study showing that more than 50% of small businesses are looking to use finance to achieve growth in 2023.

2023 Autumn Statement and SME finance options for the future

Do small businesses have reason to be more hopeful of this Autumn Statement? Maybe. There is a good chance that it will deliver better news than previous announcements. However, firms won’t be getting carried away.

When it comes to making sure of access to finance and protecting cashflow, being masters of your own destiny remains vitally important. And this focus should include being aware of all available finance options, including the services of alternative lenders.

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

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