Following the release of the Autumn Statement, delivered by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, FSB Wales Policy Chair Ben Francis said: “Today, we heard the Chancellor say he will help Britain face into the storm. Our members have had their faces into the storm for some time.
Small businesses are facing soaring costs, rampant inflation, falling revenues, difficulty accessing affordable finance and rise in invoices being paid late.
We have called for measures to not just balance the books, but boost prosperity, growth and jobs.
Instead, some of the measures today threaten to constrict small businesses.
We welcome the stay on the reversal of the hike in National Insurance, which recently came into effect, freezing the threshold at a time of such high inflation is a stealthy hike in the jobs tax.
While we were pleased to see the retention of the Employment Allowance at its current level, which was hard fought for by FSB, and the continuation of the lower National Insurance rate for the self-employed and employees, we remain disappointed in the Chancellor’s decision to slash the dividend taxation allowance, which poses another threat to hard-working owners of small businesses.
The Chancellor’s announcement of a transitional relief on businesses rates is welcome news for businesses in England, although the decision to introduce such a scheme in Wales will be taken by the Welsh Government.
Welsh Government needs to look at consequential funding from this scheme to buy breathing space for hard pressed Welsh businesses, to protect employment. We will now want to work with Welsh Government to consider how we can reduce the business rate burden in Wales, through measures such as the reinstatement of the 100% rates relief holiday. Measures such as this can play their part in protecting some of our most vulnerable but important community businesses.
It is welcome that the Chancellor recognises the immense pressure sky rocketing energy prices have placed on small firms, and the continuation of the energy support package until April. However, it is imperative that continued support should be viewed through the lens of the size of the business, rather than specific sectors.
Businesses want to know, with urgency, the support that will be available after April- as they have no certainty with which to plan their future costs.
Our latest Small Business Index results suggest almost 35,000 small businesses in Wales are expecting to downsize, close or sell their business in the coming months. The urgency to support the small business economy cannot be overstated. “