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Still fighting for what London’s small businesses need

FSB London’s response to the Autumn Budget was a broadly warm one in line with the national FSB response.

The announcements about the VAT threshold, staircase tax, change to CPI-indexation for business rates from RPI and three-yearly valuations, Home Building Fund, increased Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) allowance increases, additional funding for the British Business Bank, flexibility in approach to National Living Wage and £20 billion of new funding to support high growth tech start-ups were really welcome and many were the result of excellent campaigning across the FSB.

But there were several big issues for London’s small firms that were not mentioned.

Our flagship campaign calling for increases for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) thresholds for London was not mentioned, which was very disappointing. 

This is vital to support small firms operating in the capital and adequately reflect the high cost of doing business here.

We also know that small businesses in the capital are struggling to get the right skills as a result of the housing crisis, so we will continue to encourage the Government to work closely with the Mayor to ensure that funding reaches London to create the minimum 50,000 homes needed in London.

There were two mentions of Crossrail 2 in the Chancellor’s speech, but nothing concrete. We are very concerned that this vital project will not get off the ground unless we have some firm political commitments now.

On a more positive note, we were really pleased to see that the Chancellor recognises the unique circumstances of van users and will not be extending the increase in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for new diesel cars to vans. 

With the recent introduction of the T-charge in central London and the plans to bring forward the introduction of the ULEZ by almost a year and a half, this recognition is welcome. 

Vans are crucial to the success of thousands of local businesses and vital for ensuring that London is fully supplied with goods and services for residents, workers and visitors. The freeze on petrol and diesel duty at a time of spiralling costs is much needed. 

It’s also very encouraging to see the Government making a meaningful investment in upskilling our workforce. 

Particularly welcome is the announcement of £30 million for digital skills and long-distance learning, increasing take up of Maths and Computer Science in schools and the setting up of the National Centre for Computing that will help provide the vital skills for London’s workforce.
FSB London will continue to press our elected representatives for all the measures that London’s small and micro business community needs to survive and thrive and in doing so, keep driving the capital’s economy.