Budget 2017: Business Wishlist

Rashid Ajami, CEO and Founder of Campus Society calls to support entrepreneurship in Brexit Britain: The UK has become one of the best places in the world for any small business to grow and thrive. This is due to the comparatively low costs of start-up entry, accessible technology, a flexible economy and a positive attitude towards self-starters and entrepreneurship. 

Brexit“We’ve seen UK entrepreneurial performance increase by 10 per cent since 2011 to an all-time high, bouncing back after a decline in 2014. Indeed, EY recently found that UK entrepreneurs remain optimistic about post-Brexit prospects, despite the economic uncertainty. 

“This is why in the Budget, delivered only weeks before we expect Article 50 to be triggered, we want the Government to make sure it listens to the smallest of firms as it starts the next chapter in a post-Brexit economy that will change the parameters for migrant workers, new budgets and new trade deals. We’d urge the Government to do everything it can to maintain a conducive environment for start-ups to grow through an autonomous business landscape.”

Jonathan Richards, CEO at breatheHR comments: Remember the Prime Minister’s first promise? ‘To make Britain a country that works for everyone’. Fast forward seven months and we now have business rates hikes. Increased rates will have catastrophic impacts on small businesses and knock-on effects on productivity – the darling of the Autumn statement. The FSB reported that half those SMEs facing hikes will reduce, postpone or cancel investment – a devastating outcome. The Government should be doing all they can to fuel small businesses growth, not hinder it by adding hurdles for SMEs to jump over.  

“The Government hinted it would help those small businesses hit the hardest by the hike with a £3.6 billion fund. But this money is not enough for the millions of SMEs that will be in need of it. The Chancellor needs to set aside more cash for SMEs in the upcoming Budget and create a support system where small businesses can speak to experts who can advise them on how best to handle the hikes.” 

Niels Turfboer, Managing Director of Spotcap UK comments: “With the activation of Article 50 slated to take place in March, it is unlikely that the Chancellor will deviate from the course already set out by the government. I would expect there to be initiatives supporting the recently announced Digital and Industrial Strategies as well as continued emphasis on raising productivity. 

“SMEs should be paying attention to business rates, taxation and regional support. For example, corporation tax is already planned to be reduced to 17 per cent in 2020, but there may be more to come. The government has been very vocal on encouraging export, which makes sense given currency fluctuations. Further relief could be in the cards benefiting UK SMEs and boosting the overall UK economy.”

Bruce Bratley, Founder and CEO of First Mile comments: We hope to see the Chancellor deliver a budget that is fit for purpose to drive forward the UK’s energy efficiency agenda. In light of Brexit, it is time for the UK to become a true leader on environmental issues and in investing in renewable energy technologies. 

Progress is being made with the closure of many coal-fired plants in the UK, but with national recycling rates in decline, this is still much more to do. 

“We cannot risk going backwards without the support of the EU to drive green initiatives forward. For the UK, this means pushing for a Green Brexit. Leaving the EU is an opportunity to instil a sense of accountability for the environment amongst individuals and businesses because every generation is meant to be greener than the last. A change in mind-set is needed – all areas of industry, from environmentalists to business leaders, must work together to ensure that the UK takes ‘environmental responsibility’, now. We hope to see this Wednesday’s Budget make this a reality.”

Peter Carlisle, VP EMEA at Thales e-Security comments: Understanding the importance of securely managing data is now the responsibility of every employee at all levels of the organisation. The sooner we start equipping the next generation with specialist skills the better. That’s why it’s vital that the security industry plays its part in supporting organisations like the National Cyber Security Centre to spread best practice and enable companies to fight off malicious hackers who may wish to put national security at risk.”

Antoine Baschiera, CEO of Early Metrics, on the impact of the Spring Budget on startups, SMEs and tech companies: “The new fund for scientists is a big step-up to aim for the UK tech excellency. It’s great to see that funding will go straight to applied research with a short to mid-term outcome and not long term fundamental research. The bet made on some specific verticals (robotics, artificial intelligence, battery innovators, etc.) allow us to foresee a new industrial focus in the UK.” 
“The Chancellor explained that the UK needs to do significantly more in training and upskilling young people. The additional budget allocated for vocational and technical education in England shows that the government understands that attracting and retaining talents is key when competing against others locations, even more than tax structure or capital.”