By Daniel Hunter

The majority of small business owners across Greater Manchester and North Cheshire believe last week’s Budget was good for firms like theirs, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The FSB said 60% of members gave the Chancellor’s final Budget before the election the thumbs up, as opposed to 40% who indicated otherwise.

Respondents were also asked what they thought was the Budget’s standout feature for small firms. Nineteen per cent said it was the freeze on fuel duty; 21% said the abolishment of annual paper tax returns; and 22% that class two national insurance contributions for the self-employed will be abolished in next Parliament.

But the standout announcement according to 37% of survey respondents, was the news authorities in Greater Manchester & East Cheshire will be able to retain significantly more of the tax take from business rates in future.

When asked whether the Budget had affected the way they intended to vote in May’s General Election, 80% said no, 20% said yes.

Simon Edmondson, FSB Regional Chairman for Manchester & North Cheshire, said: “It seems the Budget has largely got the thumbs up from small business in this region. However, take out the business rate retention plans for Greater Manchester & East Cheshire and it’s quite likely small business owners would not have felt as positive about it.

“Obviously small firms quite like the idea of more revenue from business rates being retained locally, but we are still to hear from any of the collecting authorities on how they plan to spend this money, and whether it will be ring fenced for business purposes. The FSB believes extra money raised this way should be invested in creating jobs and growth in the local economy, and not to top up local authority budget shortfalls anywhere else.”

He added: “It seems many small firms have already made up their mind about who they are going to vote for. However, that 20% have been swayed by the Budget shows there’s a sizeable number of potential floating voters out there. Political candidates standing for election would do well to court the business vote.”