2009 Budget must support small businesses hit by declining confidence

They say the budget on 22 April should aim to restore business confidence (65%) and consumer confidence (63%).

“Rebuilding confidence is key to ensuring that small businesses are
able to survive and, ultimately, as the economy recovers, begin to grow
again,” said the FPB’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford. “That means
workable policies creating the right conditions for both small
businesses and consumers, which is why we are urging the Government to
implement short- and longer-term strategies to help bolster cash flow,
remove costly barriers to growth, protect key staff and stimulate
trade. At present, most business owners are receiving confusing
messages from the Government and the banks.”

The planned hike in National Insurance (NI) in 2011 was considered to
be ‘damaging’ by 62% of respondents, and ‘very damaging’ by 29%. This
was followed by the scheduled increase in fuel duty by 2p per litre in
2009 and again in 2010, this was seen as ‘damaging’ by 52% of FPB
members surveyed and ‘very damaging’ by 27%.

Further evidence from the FPB’s recent Economic Downturn Panel survey,
which was carried out between 4 and 11 March 2009, shows that a reason
for this declining confidence is a perceived lack of support, with 59%
believing that support from the Government has not improved and 35%
that it has deteriorated. Only 5% said the Government is providing them
with better support. Not a single respondent said that bank support has
improved. Half reported no improvement and 50% said it is getting worse.

The FPB is urging the Government to seize the opportunity to address
the deterioration of the economy by focusing on the wealth and job
creating sectors in order to break the cycle of decline, providing the
certainty and stability that small businesses need in order to survive
and grow.

Other issues identified as priorities for small businesses in the 2009
Budget Referendum survey are: business rates (59%), cost of utilities
(52%), minimizing other regulations (50%), taxation policy (49%),
health and safety law (40%), late payment/bad debt provisions (37%),
weak pound (35%), other employment law (35%), access to finance (35%),
cost of finance (29%), laws involving redundancy (28%), cost of raw
materials (24%), credit/trade insurance (19%), improving transport
system (17%), access to public contracts (17%) and skills of local
labour force (14%).