Despite the marriage of the Budget with BERR’s new Enterprise White Paper, the coverage for entrepreneurs and business owners has been as dull as the Chancellor. The decision to delay the income-splitting legislation was, says Richard Tyler of the Daily Telegraph, “the most significant new change to the Government’s small business taxation plans.” Tyler says that senior Treasury officials lobbied ministers in the last few days to change their plans, fearing that small business owners would simply ignore the new rules because of their complexity. He notes that "the Chancellor chose not to mention it in his speech, even though he championed the legislation in his pre-Budget report. It is the second piece of major legislation affecting small firms proposed in October to have been significantly amended." Entertaining as ever, Jonathan Guthrie in the FT had his take on the issue: “to the fury of Revenue & Customs, married partners gain modest tax advantages by splitting dividends from a family business. Stopping this would have involved Stasi-style snooping into each partner’s contribution to the venture. The reform has been shelved for a year. It should be shelved forever.” Karen Attwood in The Independent actually talked to a business owner – James Greenham, managing director of EMS Physio, a medical equipment firm in Oxfordshire. The focus of the piece was that the Budget doesn’t address red tape issues. He reckons that the time required “to ensure that his 43-employee company is complying with everything from health and safety and accounting standards to whether it has the right insurance has risen by 300 per cent in five years.” "We have four sets of auditors who come around our offices now, and they all ask the same questions. It has passed from being an irritant to being a problem," he said. "We spend most of our management’s time responding to auditors." “Next to none” of the Budget will affect EMS Physio, certainly not in areas such as the lack of skilled workers. "It is a real concern, but that’s not going to be corrected by a Budget." But apart from that, there’s just the usual line-up of spokespeople from the business lobby groups and the accountants. How very dreary.
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