FSB members were invited to join Nicky Morgan at her Business Breakfast to hear a breakdown of the Spring Statement and discuss apprenticeships at Loughborough College.
While the discussion on the spring statement focused on what is now more of an update on the economy and the state of the public finances- rather than a pomp and ceremony Budget as in years gone by- we take a look at what we thought the statement means for small businesses.
It was lacking some of the pomp and ceremony of a traditional Budget Day – but we had been warned this year the Spring Statement would be much shorter, with no ‘Red Box’.
Instead, there would be a summary of the state of the economy and the public finances.
As he got to his feet, the Chancellor Philip Hammond claimed the UK economy had reached a turning point and there was "light at the end of the tunnel".
Crucially for small businesses, Mr Hammond did commit to tackling the scourge of late payments which destroys 50,000 businesses a year.
It’s an issue FSB has lobbied hard on and FSB are delighted that the Chancellor has sent a clear message to UK boardrooms today by committing to ending the late payment crisis. We look forward to working with the Mr Hammond and his team to eliminate the scourge of late payments. Ending the late payment crisis could add £2.5 billion to our economy annually and help close the productivity gap.
Mr Hammond also announced a new VAT collection mechanism for online sales to ensure that the VAT that consumers pay "actually reaches the Treasury"
It’s good to see the Chancellor outline plans to tackle online VAT evasion. No business, in any part of the world, should be gaining an unfair advantage by dodging tax. We need to level the playing field for small UK firms trading online that meet their tax obligations.
Any new tax on multi-national digital corporations can’t be allowed to impact on small firms who are already trying to compete in a sector dominated by big players.
Another success for FSB lobbying came when Mr Hammond also announced that the government will bring forward the next revaluation of business rates from 2022 to 2021.
FSB has long called for more frequent business rates revaluations and the change is part of plans to revalue rates every three years, meaning changes in business rates will be less dramatic at each revaluation.
By delivering on their promise to make these a reality, the Government could make the rates regime fairer, aligning business rates bills with current property values and the local economy. However, it’s absolutely crucial that more frequent business rates revaluations aren’t used as an excuse to increase tax revenue or place additional admin burdens on small firms.
A further announcement was made of £80 million dedicated funding for small firms who are keen to take on an apprentice, a topic which was heavily discussed at the event, and which FSB has long campaigned for better support for SMEs for.
Small businesses are key to delivering the Government’s target of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. Also welcome is the Government’s consultation on tax reliefs to encourage more training opportunities for the 4.8 million-strong self-employed community.
In this Spring Statement the Chancellor has shown he’s on the side of the UK’s 5.7 million small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs. We look forward to his words being followed up by real action.