Chancellor Rishi Sunak has delivered his Budget for the next financial year, renewing and extending many measures designed to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland welcomed most of the announcements but urged policymakers to take a long-term view to small business recovery.
Andrew McRae, the FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Today’s package of measures from the Chancellor gives the bulk of Scotland’s small business community more fuel to get through the last lap of this crisis.
“Specifically, the important move to extend furlough buys local employers important time until the wider economy gets up and running. And additional emergency payments for the self-employed means that those that work for themselves aren’t going to be left high and dry over the summer. However these measures could have been complemented with a cut in employers’ national insurance contributions to make it cheaper to create jobs.
“Rates and grants changes for firms in England should provide food for thought for Scottish policymakers. We’d urge Ministers in Edinburgh to optimise their package of measures on this front to ensure the bulk of help goes to smaller firms hit hardest, and not the biggest businesses who’ve avoided the hardest restrictions.
“The Chancellor missed an opportunity to extend help to some operators that have had little or no support throughout this crisis, like directors of small companies. And some tourism and hospitality businesses will feel that the VAT cut should be in place until they’ve an opportunity to recoup lost business. Thankfully, the changes to Corporation Tax look designed to avoid hitting smaller companies and won’t come in until 2023, but UK Ministers must review this policy regularly to ensure it won’t hitting important local players.
“Scotland’s business community is now saddled with more than £3bn of government-backed debt. We’d like to have seen new initiatives aimed at helping independent firms grapple with this burden.
“The Chancellor spoke to the need for a long-term recovery plan. Governments in Edinburgh and London need to remember that it will also take time for local businesses to get back to full strength.”