UK SMEs feel let down by ‘entrepreneur’ chancellor

The next Budget, setting out the government's tax and spending plans, will be held on 15 March 2023, the Treasury has announced.

UK SMEs are expressing profound disappointment and a sense of being overlooked following the recent Budget announcement. They argue that the Chancellor’s policies appear to favour large corporations over the backbone of the UK economy – small businesses.

Roan Lavery, CEO of FreeAgent, acknowledged a few positive highlights such as the cut in National Insurance and the increase in the VAT threshold. However, he pointed out that these measures fail to address critical issues plaguing SMEs, such as late payments, tax complexity, and long-term support. Lavery emphasized the urgent need for the Chancellor to take more substantial actions to assist SMEs grappling with the challenges exacerbated by the current economic climate.

Scott Dixon, Managing Director of The Flava People, echoed concerns about the lack of policies designed to incentivize growth for SMEs. He highlighted that SMEs constitute the vast majority of businesses in the UK, yet government policies often seem skewed towards benefiting larger corporations. Dixon appreciated some positive changes in the Budget, like the VAT registration threshold increase, but urged for further reductions in corporate tax or capital gains tax to provide meaningful support to SMEs.

Ben Hancock, Managing Director of Oscar Acoustics, welcomed the freeze on fuel duty but highlighted persistent challenges arising from rising energy and material costs. He stressed that SMEs are still struggling, and additional support from the government is crucial to tackle the financial pressures they face.

Richard Besant, Director of Powdertech, described the Budget as a mixed bag. While he acknowledged some positive measures, Besant criticized the lack of substantial support for UK businesses grappling with inflation and soaring energy costs. He expressed concern about the lingering uncertainty affecting investor confidence and called for more decisive actions to support SMEs and stimulate economic growth.

The sentiments expressed by SME leaders reflect a deep sense of frustration and concern over the perceived neglect of small businesses in the Budget. They underscore the urgent need for the government to implement targeted policies that provide meaningful support and foster resilience within the SME sector, ensuring its vital contribution to the UK economy is recognized and supported.