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What real business leaders want from the Autumn Statement

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In tomorrow’s Autumn Statement, George Osborne is expected to discuss pensions, fuel duty and inheritance tax. But business leaders hope for some significant emphasis on supporting SMEs through the downturn, too – be that in terms of reducing the tax burden, supporting exports, or pushing forward the launch of a new business bank.

Research by commercial finance brokers Hilton-Baird Financial Solutions, conducted in October 2012, questioned over 400 managing directors and finance directors what they believed the single most important action the government could take to help their business to grow. 

59 per cent placed tax cuts highest on their wish list. This figure consisted of those hoping the coalition reduces VAT (30 per cent), corporation tax (15 per cent) and income tax (14 per cent). A further 16 per cent believed that new government funding initiatives would most help their business.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), on the other hand, urged the chancellor to use his Autumn Statement to put a firm plan in place for small firms to grow, which can be fully delivered at Budget 2013. Primarily, their demands included setting out plans for a small business bank, an extension to the National Insurance Contributions Holiday scheme, and the planned 3p fuel duty rise to be scrapped.

Before tomorrow’s announcement lays out what support the UK’s business community will really be given, we asked real business leaders what measures the chancellor would have to put in place to help them grow. Read what they said below; and don’t forget to share your own expectations in the comments.

Ryan Ward, head of Europe at Xactly, providers of sales compensation management software

“We hope that the chancellor can help get the economy moving by incentivising businesses to drive growth and profitability. We have been doing this for our customers since the downturn and would ask the government to support us in helping business grow.

“The run-up to the Christmas period is one of the most important for the majority of businesses and the autumn statement is a good time for companies to sanity check their current progress on their performance and make small but necessary tweaks to ensure they remain competitive and effective into the new year.“

Nick Moore, managing director of We Trade It, the UK’s first online business trading community for SMEs

“The Autumn Statement needs to put SMEs at the heart of its reforms if Britain is to steer itself out of the current economic slump. Osborne needs to commit to the country’s SMEs and more importantly deliver a clear plan of action that details how he will deliver the support that is so desperately needed.

“In an ideal world, Osborne’s statement would deliver: low rate profit-linked lending to small businesses from banks and lending institutions; local authorities to award minimum of 25 per cent of contracts to small businesses; national secondary education curriculum to include subjects directly related to business starts-ups.

“We also need tax incentives for large corporates to trade directly with SMEs with a maximum 30 day payment structure to ensure suppliers receive money quickly and efficiently, and the abolition of corporation tax on companies showing under £300,000 profit. This would give them extra £60,000 a year to re-invest in products, services and jobs.

“With dire one per cent growth predictions for the economy in 2013, reforms need to be put into place immediately to get the country back on track.”

Rob Charlton, CEO of _space, architecture, national design and technology business

“I think the government has to incentivise enterprise, and this may be achieved through advice and rewards for growth. 

“It needs to encourage house building as it can underpin so many communities which will involve bringing a number of small businesses into the mix, which will push cash into the local and wider economy. Any proposals will need to look to the regions rather than London

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