Budget 2016: Here are 10 things small business owners want from Osborne

Will the budget be good news for UK entrepreneurs? If the chancellor can fulfill these requests from the founders of fast-growth small firms, it might be

On Wednesday 16 March, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne will reveal the 2016 budget report and the UK’s small businesses will be waiting with baited breath to find out just what measures are announced.

Given that 91% of the country’s business owners recently claimed that last year’s budget “didn’t do enough” to support them, we asked entrepreneurs and founders of fast-growing small companies to share the 10 policies that top their budget ‘wish list’ this year.

From better broadband to contingency plans for a Brexit, here’s what the “engine room of the economy” want Osborne to address in this week’s budget… (Whether their wishes come true is another matter!)

1. Revising the planned dividend tax increase

Tom Cridland founder of namesake brand Tom Cridland:

“Dividend tax is set to increase significantly by 7.5% for those whose dividend income is higher than £5,000. I can’t help but feel this is a tax on hard work and success that comes as a result of it. I wholeheartedly believe such a move goes against all government encouragement for British people to be entrepreneurial.”

See more: Dividend tax changes – What business owners really think

2. Faster broadband

Joe Giordano, founder of ChargeApp:

“Given the nature of our business, better broadband and improved mobile network access are key areas of us. For businesses in 2016, ultra-fast broadband is a necessity and should no longer be considered a luxury.”

James Layfield of Central Working:

“If there was an electricity outrage or the water in your building got disconnected you could carry on working. But many entrepreneurs simply can’t survive if their internet connection is poor or continually breaks. […] Outdated planning permission procedures make installing cables and rooftop point-to-point antennas a time-consuming affair and government needs to act.”

3. A simplified tax system

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent:

“The Office of Tax Simplification recently recommended a range of proposals to simplify tax for small businesses including an overhaul of National Insurance, making VAT issues such as MOSS easier to deal with, and allowing small firms to prepare accounts on a cash basis. I would like to see all of these recommendations taken forward in the budget.

“But I also want to see the government go even further, particularly with regard to legislation that affects contractors. Contractors are an increasingly important part of the economy but they face far higher risk than other businesses, due to the fact they have to find contracts, keep their own books and deal with payroll, as well as not being entitled to sick pay, holiday pay or other employment benefits. All of this should be recognised in the way they are treated by the tax system.”

4. Business rates reform

Central Working’s Layfield:

“I hope to see the chancellor launch a progressive approach to business rates. The government has already undertaken a consultation process and now is the time to reassess the rate model and empower local authorities to offer lower rates to new enterprise, regardless of office value. This could encourage entrepreneurialism hubs to flourish in major cities around the UK and inspire the next generation of business leaders.”

5. Brexit questions answered

Marsha Ward, director and founder of The Number Hub:

“Discussions around Brexit have created cause for concern amongst many small businesses. The one thing we’d all like to hear more about is what the contingency plan is should this go ahead and what support would be made available for businesses who trade in the EU?”

Related: 42% of UK small businesses could still be swayed on EU vote

6. Appointment of a small business commissioner

Dafydd Llewellyn, managing director of UK small and medium business at Concur:

“To ensure that small and medium businesses remain the powerhouse of the economy, I would like to see someone finally appointed into the role of small business commissioner. That such a role exists but has yet to be filled is fast becoming a farce – especially at a time when small firms are more vulnerable to late payments by larger organisations as the latter try to improve their own financial position. Small businesses need this position filled and pronto.”

7. A Northern Powerhouse plan “with substance”

James Turner, managing director of Turner Little:

“My aspirations regarding the upcoming budget would be for the government to offer greater support for new and smaller firms in the North.

“There’s currently very little, if anything, which could be directly linked to government policy to support or encourage new businesses in our region. While I expect the chancellor will draw on the Northern Powerhouse, this is unlikely to actually bear much substance since, with the possible exception of Leeds and Sheffield which attract occasional support due to the allegedly forthcoming HS2 link to London, the government does very little to support Yorkshire small and medium enterprises.”

8. A focus on skills training and apprenticeships

Jordan Daykin, founder of GripIt Fixings:

“People are often a business’ greatest asset, so I’d like to see the chancellor propose urgent action to address skills across the board. We need better training opportunities for graduates and even more so for those without academic qualifications, including a greater number of good quality apprenticeships. Currently, almost a third of apprentices in the UK fail to complete their work schemes – this suggests that the quality of apprenticeships aren’t what they should be. The government’s aim is to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020, but this figure is meaningless if they only count apprenticeship ‘starts’ rather than completions.”

Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check and Carsnip agrees:

“The budget needs to offer some respite to small business concerns about recruitment, as it’s by far their biggest issue for the year ahead. Firms are growing, research shows us this, but unless the Chancellor acts to ease the impact of the apprenticeship levy and the imminent National Living Wage, industry could suffer.”

9. New office spaces

Darren Fell, CEO and founder of Crunch Accounting:

“The increasing numbers of freelancers and micro-businesses working out of their homes has blurred the lines between property usage, while the government’s easing of rules around commercial-to-residential conversions has seen swathes of city-centre commercial space converted into luxury flats, pushing growing businesses out of town.

“The only answer is a large-scale, coherent development plan which takes into account the needs of individuals, businesses, and the 4.5 million people who fall into both categories. The government has done some good work with things like the Start Up Loans scheme to encourage new businesses – now they need to make sure those businesses have space to grow.”

10. Expansion of SEIS

Emma Smith, CEO and co-founder of Memberoo:

“I would love to see the Seed Enterprise Scheme (SEIS) expanded to businesses, not just individuals. Businesses have the funds and capacity to be a great source of investment for start-ups, but because they are not eligible for SEIS relief it much harder to find business investors than individual investors. This does not make sense to me – SEIS needs to be rationalised.”

What business policies would you like to see addressed in the 2016 budget? Let us know in the comment box below or Tweet us @startupstowers


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