IT is critical that any Budget gets it right for the 135,000 small businesses across the North-East, Ted Salmon, North-East FSB regional chairman, writes.
They are a significant part of the recovering economy employing 333,000 staff and contributing £24bn to the economy.
Overall we have welcomed the Budget believing it shows progress on economic recovery and maintains the momentum for growth aspirations.
For our members across the region the doubling of the Annual Investment Allowance to the end of 2015 will provide certainty and allow them to realise their investment expectations. However, there is clearly more work to be done to make small businesses aware of the support offered.
Our research shows that only two per cent of members knew about the recent increase to £250,000 meaning most firms hadn’t taken advantage of it. To overcome this we need to see a far more proactive approach from HMRC in the North East to make small businesses aware of the support and tax reliefs that are available to encourage more to grow and prosper.
The focus on getting more small businesses to export is critical for the recovery of the North East economy. Increasing the amount of support that is available is welcomed. However, we’d like to see the extra funding for the Export Guarantee Scheme better targeted towards small businesses to help more start exporting or expand what they’re already doing.
The freezing of the fuel duty will be welcomed by many small businesses who are still struggling with the cost of fuel at the pump.
We welcome the new Social Investment Tax Relief which will help stimulate investment into a growing sector in the North-East.
The 30% tax relief matches what the Enterprise Investment Scheme has done for mainstream businesses. The North-East can lead the way on this but need a much more proactive investment community to achieve this. We also need to stimulate more demand for this type of investment.
Overall, the Chancellor set the pace towards some progress but there is still more to be done to get the economy and public finances back on track including tackling late payment.