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10 October 2019

Small firms call for urgent interventions as GDP and trade drop

Responding to the announcements that GDP is estimated to have fallen by 0.1% in August and the UK’s trade deficit widened by more than £18 billion to £50 billion over the past year, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry, said:

“Small businesses are completely hamstrung by current uncertainty. Confidence has been down for five straight quarters, investment plans are on ice and exports are falling.

"The Government needs to step-in with radical measures to arrest the malaise. Small firms want a pro-business Brexit deal and meaningful financial assistance – not just written guidance – to help address the impacts of uncertainty and plan ahead. Export vouchers worth up to £3,000 to enable access to expert support are urgently needed.

"Employers are particularly feeling the squeeze. Increasing wages, auto-enrolment costs and national insurance contributions have left small business owners taking less for themselves and holding back spending on productivity-enhancing interventions. A wider roll-out of the Employment Allowance is overdue. That means a significant uprating of the discount on NICs bills to ensure more small businesses benefit.

“And our small retailers continue to struggle with surging costs. Further business rates reform is key to reversing the decline of many high streets across the UK.”