Comment - Budget announcement is big deal for business

The Budget announcement presents the government with a vital opportunity to help small businesses lead the country back to growth, says Jason Stockwood.

It will be small businesses that kick-start growth in the UK. We know this, and the government knows this. In fact, the government has taken great pains to tell us how much faith it has in SMEs, and how keen it is to help them grow.

Well, now it is time for the government to put its money where its mouth is.

This month’s Budget announcement could be a major turning point in the country’s economic recovery. It presents the government with a unique opportunity to help small businesses grow – and, in turn, to help return the economy to growth.

We know that some of the biggest challenges facing small business owners include managing their cash flow, dealing with red tape, winning new business, and securing bank funding. Many are also struggling to cope with spiralling running costs – which have been exacerbated by rising petrol prices.

We want to see the Chancellor address some of these challenges head on. We would like a reduction in the burden of compliance, and a cut in the red tape that is making it so difficult for businesses to expand. We would like to see an extension of the National Insurance Contributions holiday in order to incentivise new hiring and tackle unemployment. And we would like to see a simplification of the public sector tendering process, to make sure that small businesses are not put off applying for contracts.

Project Merlin, the government’s last major announcement, was a flop. Small businesses need the Chancellor and the Prime Minister to get serious on bank lending. The government should be bearing down on the banks, many of which we now own, and making clear that they cannot go on like this.

SMEs are capable of returning the country to stable, long-term growth. But we need the government’s support – and for this we need strong, decisive action on March 23rd.