Autumn Statement: What are SMEs saying?

What are SMEs saying?
What are SMEs saying?


Brenda Morris, General Manager at Kronos: "Cutting corporate tax rates and encouraging highly skilled apprenticeships offers UK businesses a great opportunity to drive growth. Now it is for businesses to pick up the baton.

"By building on these skills through engaging the workforce, organisations can deliver a huge boost to productivity. The happier the workforce, the more productive it will be. If businesses take responsibility for developing these motivated employees then the UK economy will reap the rewards in the long-term. If they can’t take advantage of these savings and deploy this talent effectively, we will be lulled into another slump in productivity. The talent and resources are there for businesses to thrive; with better communication and improved use of the data that’s at their disposal, the benefits of an engaged, driven workforce can deliver productivity and growth."

Tracy Ewen, managing director of IGF Invoice Finance, said:“The government’s announcement of further investment into the apprenticeship programme is a vital step in supporting the next generation of working professionals in the UK. By introducing a business-led body and increasing funding per place, the standard of each apprenticeship should ensure high quality, on-the-job training.

Small and medium size businesses must use this opportunity to introduce and excel their apprenticeship programmes to give opportunities to individuals who may not wish to attend higher education, or are simply seeking a change in career. It’s important that apprentices are not used as cheap labour, or merely seen as a forgotten element of a commitment to social responsibility, but should be hired as an equal member of staff worth investing in for the long term. By passing on skills and knowledge, businesses will benefit from valuable members of staff who complement other employees - as well as the activity and success of a team."


Jim Duffy, CEO, Entrepreneurial Spark said, "The small business rate relief scheme being extended for another year is good news for start-ups, but I'd like to see the Chancellor go deeper and provide more tax breaks and support for entrepreneurs. We'd like to see more initiatives to help start-ups recruit, plus easier access to funding for high potential businesses."


James Blake, CEO of Hello Soda said: “Infrastructure and connectivity are key to the long-term sustainability of the Northern Powerhouse but we also need to foster business growth, support more entrepreneurs and promote innovation. For the north to truly become a powerhouse, we need to embrace new industries and stop trying to reinvent the old. The powerhouse of the industrial revolution needs to rise again and became a home to the digital revolution.”

John Longworth, BCC Director General, said: “We are delighted that the Chancellor has used this opportunity to listen to business on infrastructure, particularly on repairing our broken road network. This will help move people and goods more efficiently across the country, which will help businesses to grow.


Chris Futcher, CEO of Pulse Accounting, comments: "The Statement has confirmed that the government will, following consultation, legislate to restrict tax relief for travel and subsistence expenses for workers engaged through an employment intermediary, such as an umbrella company or a personal service company.

"While the change will take effect from 6 April 2016, there is still no confirmation made about how it will be implemented and managed. Contractors, employment intermediaries and end clients continue to be none the wiser about the impact of the legislation come the 6th of April.

"All umbrella company contractors will be affected by this legislation and PSC contractors, where they fall under the intermediaries legislation, will be also be affected. However, with this legislation still being reviewed confusion for PSCs remains."

Stephen Berry, Chartered Financial Planner at NFU Mutual, said: “Self-employed people could face significant changes to the way they pay tax in the future, depending on the outcome of a consultation. In addition to having to record their tax affairs digitally the Government is looking to make them pay tax on profits more quickly; potentially moving to quarterly payments.”

Jonathan Riley, Head of Tax, Grant Thornton UK LLP said: "By ducking the issue of simplification and adopting "sticking plaster" solutions, the government continues to add to the volume and complexity of tax legislation. For example, the 2% extra council tax local authorities can impose must be used for social care (the principle of hypothecation). Whilst laudable this will almost certainly prove difficult to track and administer. Similarly the increase in apprenticeships is to be welcomed but the apprenticeship levy is yet another administrative responsibility for business. Finally, the 12.5% rate for Northern Ireland again responds to a strong call to help the region compete with the south, but again will add to tax and transfer pricing burdens for business. All these solutions are well intentioned in principle, however they fly in the face of what should be government's long term goal of drastic simplification of the tax system."


James Sherwin-Smith, CEO of Growth Street, a new SME lending platform (and SME itself) said: “Osborne has singled out businesses as the greatest contributor to GDP growth. Yet there are no measures in today’s Autumn Statement that improve the financing options for SMEs. SME finance is the next UK financial scandal in the making. If the government believes “businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy” and want to achieve its goal of “backing small business” more needs to be done. The Chancellor George Osborne has a responsibility to address this and has not gone nearly far enough with measures announced in today’s Autumn Statement.”


David Glick, CEO and Founder of Edge Investments, said: "The UK creative economy faces a constant battle for funding and support, despite the sector accounting for 10% of the UK’s economy and employing 2.6m people. Private investors should see these spending cuts as an opportunity to support the UK’s creative industries, to plug the growing funding gap and to realise potentially excellent investment returns in some truly outstanding creative enterprises. There are nearly 160,000 creative industries businesses in Britain, characterised by a high degree of entrepreneurial fair yet, despite this being a high growth sector, many of them still find it difficult to attract adequate capital to maximise their potential.”

John Longworth, BCC Director General, said: “Increasing investment in science and technology is a boon to our dynamic businesses, especially in our thriving tech sector, so that they have room to grow. However it is important that the move to replace grants with loans from Innovate UK does not reduce our dynamism in the global economy. Businesses must continue to feel empowered to evolve and expand, otherwise we risk being also-rans in the global race.”


Neil Crockett, CEO, the Digital Catapult, said: "It is great that the government's vision for a stronger UK has digital at its heart. We are delighted that the Chancellor recognises the value of government as a platform as envisaged by the Government Digital Service and that there is a clear plan for the Northern Powerhouse and devolved nations. We naturally welcome the continued support for the Catapult centres and research at time when the UK needs to maintain its global lead in digital innovation. It is also important to remember that digital transformation is not just needed in the public sector, but across businesses of all sizes to drive economic growth and productivity. We are looking forward to learning more about the Digital Transformation Plan and to understand how we can play our part in unlocking the potential value from sharing data."

Gary Turner, MD, Xero, a supplier of cloud accounting software for small businesses: “The government’s strategy to build one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world is ambitious and we applaud them. In our engagements with HMRC they are demonstrating this ambition for progression by collaborating with technology partners like Xero in their aim of creating online tax accounts for 10M people by 2016. This is a bold plan. As the chancellor announced today, HMRC will make efficiencies of 18% to its own budget. In the new digital age, we don’t need tax payers to pay for paper processing or the 170 tax offices around the country.”