By Carl Hasty, Director of Smart Currency Business

Actor Ray Winstone's comments on radio about being 'raped' by high taxes and seeing no returns on this money highlights two very different sides of the economic story.

With the UK wallowing in a recessionary climate, a chorus of pundits and trade bodies have already begun calling on the Government ahead of the Budget to cut taxes, reduce red tape and boost support to businesses. All this noise suggests the Government is badly failing in its mandate to kick-start growth and assist businesses — particularly SMEs.

Worryingly, Winstone's comments and suggestion he may leave the UK mirror the situation already seen in other countries such as France, where wealthy individuals and businesspeople — most prominently actor Gerard Depardieu — are leaving their home country in favour of a more supportive economic environment abroad.

Having said that, numerous Government-sponsored measures are already in place to support business, which in many cases are being overlooked or are not receiving the widespread promotion they deserve. For instance, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills is working in partnership with private enterprise to provide the Growth Accelerator service, which offers tailored expertise and support to high-growth SMEs, and the £1 billion Business Bank scheme announced last year is specifically designed to boost lending to fund business expansion.

There is much merit in these, and other, announced schemes in achieving growth, provided they are implemented in a timely fashion and developed as part of a co-ordinated suite of business support services. Chancellor George Osborne would do well to make funds more readily available to SMEs in this Budget to counter the effects of the Government's austerity drive and expand on established measures to stimulate business activity.

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