Telling the truth about SME life today

Business leaders at Tyrrells Crisps, Metcalfe’s Food and Nutmeg make their Budget 2015 requests

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The coalition government is getting its house in order, preparing to butt heads with Labour, UKIP, the Greens and the SNP and get the best return when the electorate go to the poll. But that doesn’t mean that companies up and down the UK don’t have a few Budget suggestions.

From cutting business rates to dealing with late payment problems, extending the remit of SEIS and EIS to boosting broadband speeds, there are no shortage of announcements the business leaders we’ve spoken to would like to see come out of Osborne’s red briefcase.

Oren Greenberg, founder and MD of curve, said:

The government’s growth voucher programme has only passed 3.6m of the proposed 30m on to small businesses. Further investment is required to change this, and a more effective policy encouraging growth should be put in the budget to help small businesses, which are vital to the economy. Investing 26 into a small business can help generate 286 for the local economy, compared to only 121 for larger businesses; which highlights the benefits for local communities.

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, said:

I think it is imperative that the country stays on course and does not lurch back into old habits such as boom and bust cycles. Now is not the time to start huge spending programmes or giving huge tax cuts. That said, what business needs, particularly SMEs, is stability, confidence and reassurance with respect to the business environment. Investments are typically made with a relatively long-term view and believing the economy is in a well-managed recovery is therefore key to investment and business growth.

The best help for companies such as RED Driving School who provide consumer services is high employment levels. I would like to see the government increase its commitment to getting young people into employment and this could be any number of incentives, which would be most helpful. An example would be to offer financial support in the form of tax breaks for employers taking on people under 25 years old.

Darren Fell, MD of Crunch Accounting, said:

“Although the government has time and time again praised the UK’s self-employed population, they have yet to enact any meaningful legislative changes for freelancers and contractors. With Labour and the Greens promising equal rights for the self-employed if they are elected, we’d love to see the coalition move to do something similar.

“This isn’t even a party political issue, everyone is agreed that the UK’s self-employed population are short-changed. We just need the government to put its money where its mouth is and actually do something.

Nicholas Russell, CEO of We Are Pop Up, said:

“While the discussion about business rates reform goes on, high street retailers must pay todays business rates. In some cases, rates even exceed rent.

Theres a lively debate about the 15 per cent ofshops in the country that are vacant and how business rates play a part in keeping them empty. The Budget needs to recognise this and ideally there will be a far-reaching reform of rates, to better incentivise vibrant high streets.

Seema Paterson, LendingCrowds Head of Corporate Affairs, said:
Furthermore were hoping to see some moves to support business. The CBI has recently urged George Osborne to make life easier for medium-sized companies with more investment allowances and extending research and development credits. We are hoping that increases in personal allowances and pension reforms will give people more options to invest potential extra funds they may have. Peer-to-business crowdlending will give them one of many options to reinvest more capital. Retirees, for example, will have the option to take out and reinvest a lump sum from their pension into a P2P investment of their choosing.

Jason Downes, MD of Powwownow, said:

At the moment, the government have too much interest in saying the right things in order to be elected but then fail to follow this up through actions. I think the government should ultimately work harder to listen to the people running SMEs to understand their priorities and grievances. Perhaps setting up a task force or appointing a board of consultants could be a solution for the future.
Broadband investment is a subject that is often talked about and yet very little ever seems to be done. Year after year, Britain is slipping outside the top ten nations for internet speed. The quality of our internet access isnt as good as you would expect with the resources we have available. People in other countries find it astounding when they come to the UK that they can’t do business in certain places due to a lack of internet connection.

Danvers Baillieu, COO at HideMyAss, said:

From the point of view of business, the government should follow the twin clear goals of creating a regulatory environment which is conducive to enterprise and to deliver sustainable economic growth. On the second of these, George Osborne is right to put great emphasis on his long term economic plan as ultimately this is what will create prosperity in the UK. Too many people are obsessing over the lack of policy initiatives ahead of the election, whereas I am happy to have a break from short-term gimmicks and bribes, as we got at the tail end of the last Labour government.

Richard Harris,director at Richard Harris Tutor and Tutor Desk, said:

The kindest thing the government can do for my business, and the growth of wealth in our communities, is to do as little as possible. The great benefit of the free market is that, when left to its own devices, we find extraordinarily innovative ways to deliver the wants of the population.

As a baby entrepreneur, I was terrified in to paralysis when looking up all the cryptic legal edicts on business. Added to this, whenever one has the unfortunate necessity to deal with one of the monstrous tentacles of government, the service received is often so appallingly slow, shoddy and disinterested that it makes the eyes water. This bad service is especially painful for me as a businessman, since my organisation strives so diligently on excellent service. For me, the less I have to deal with the government, the more time I have to spend on servicing my customer.

James Codling and Paul Moravek, co-founders of VentureFounders, said:

As one of the top four entrepreneurial countries in the world, George Osborne needs to show commitment to maintaining government support to UK businesses and entrepreneurs.

Firstly, we call on him to increase the amount that can be raised by companies under SEIS from 150,000 to 250,000 to give these early-stage businesses the capital they need to achieve their growth potential. This will ensure that more money is being invested in fledgling businesses, and that investors are rewarded with tax efficient ways of making investments in UK plc.

Second, and equally as important, is being able to raise sufficient equity capital at the outset of a new venture in order to enable these entrepreneurial businesses to grow without constraint. We firmly believe that businesses should be able to raise capital concurrently using both the SEIS and EIS schemes. Under the current rules, a company can only issue new shares and bring in more capital once it has spent 70% of its SEIS money. Raising investment takes a considerable amount of time and effort; management is best served running the business rather than continually meeting investors and fundraising.

Shalini Khemka, founder and CEO of E2Exchange, said:

A significant amount has already been achieved by the chancellor and the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), however E2Exchange hopes to see these efforts continued through further tax simplification to ensure that businesses remain competitive, open for business and to encourage companies to expand, create wealth and jobs. A complicated tax system makes it increasingly hard for businesses of all sizes to understand and forecast their tax liability. We would therefore like to see a single tax account system for small businesses and for HMRC to begin accepting monthly tax payments.
E2Exchange also welcomes tax relief for small businesses through a lower corporation tax rate and to abolish business rates for small businesses with turnover of under 1m. We also call for further support and financing for companies exporting to new markets in order to help shrink the UKs widening trade deficit.

Read on to find out what David Milner of Tyrrells Crisps and Robert Jakobi of Metcalfe’s Food would like to see happen.



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