Phil Orford, chief executive at the small business support and lobby group, the Forum of Private Business, has issued his annual New Year message to small businesses, looking at the year ahead and exploring what could be done to improve the fortunes of the UK economy.
“With talk of an unprecedented ‘triple dip’ recession, it is no wonder that confidence remains low, businesses hoarding cash and investment intentions distinctly muted.
“Despite this, many small business owners possess the courage and creativity to progress despite adverse trading conditions. What we need during 2013 is a clear national economic strategy which maintains a focus on deficit reduction, lower borrowing and an improvement in our balance of payments, whilst mapping out a visionary approach to medium and long-term enterprise friendly policies to give all business the confidence to invest.
“This must be the focus of the Budget on March 20th with further tax and investment stimulants to encourage businesses to spend some of the £700bn of cash on their balance sheets.
“For too long now, the economy has struggled due to a lack of affordable credit being available to businesses and consumers. Despite a number of government initiatives, the latest of which is the Funding for Lending Scheme, the main banks continue to disable growth by applying unreasonable criteria to their assessments of risk and credit worthiness.
“They are institutionally risk adverse, anti-competitive and fail to grasp the scale of the damage they have done, and continue to do. More radical action must be taken to force change now, rather in years to come”.
“Despite government rhetoric to reduce the burden of red tape on businesses, 2013 sees some significant amendments to legislation and HMRC rules which business owners need plan for immediately.
“The timetable for Auto-enrolment rolls on and small businesses should start preparing now for 2015 implementation. Real Time Information that requires companies to report payroll information monthly rather than annually, creates a huge additional burden for businesses with its implementation in April 2013.
“And with significant amendments to employment legislation, employers need to be aware of how these changes will affect how they manage staff.
“Small business owners are becoming disenfranchised from politicians. PR and spin has become the order of the day with announcements made months ahead of implementation, commitments which have remained undelivered and a blatant focus on large businesses, without there being adequate mechanisms for holding such businesses to account on tax, late payment and social responsibility”.
“When economic times are tough, politicians need to provide leadership and look beyond short-term political survival strategies. Instead, they must focus on schemes to support national infrastructure and security based upon long-term planning for roads, rail, aviation, energy and water.
“The Forum of Private Business will continue to provide leadership, support and protection to its members and the wider small business community. We will continue to promote our campaign to ‘Get Britain Trading’ and lobby for government to speed up its efforts to create the right environment for business.
“In representing smaller businesses, our strength and voice lies in the power of the collective. Throughout 2013, our voice will be louder as we demand that our country’s policymakers deliver more to the UK for long-term benefit, rather than focusing on short-term policies to support re-election.”