Three quarters (75%) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK believe the government favours big businesses, according to peer-to-peer lender MarketInvoice.
Despite a Budget which appeared to give plenty to cheer for smaller businesses, the poll suggests that more needs to be done to bridge the gap.
Recent research conducted by accountancy firm, MHA MacIntyre Hudson revealed that 46% of 316 FTSE 350 firms were paying less than the 20% corporation tax rate. And a recent investigation by The Sunday Times revealed that at least six of the UK's ten multinationals, including British American Tobacco, Lloyds Banking Group and Shell, paid no corporation tax in the UK in 2014, despite combined profits of more than £30 billion.
Anil Stocker, co-founder and CEO of MarketInvoice, said: “Small business owners feel cheated of their hard-earned profits when they see large corporations exploiting tax loopholes, whilst they have the taxman scrutinising every penny. The Budget went some way to righting this wrong, but actions speak louder than words. Until small businesses feel see the change in their own books, the government’s reputation will remain tarnished.”
There are signs that George Osborne is starting to address these issues, however. Over a quarter of small businesses picked, “scrap corporation tax for SMEs and make sure big business pays more” as their number one ‘wildest dream’ policy for the Budget – and that’s exactly what the Chancellor announced.
At the same time, he helped further address issues of balance with announcement of fewer loopholes for multinationals and more tax breaks for SMEs including the headline declaration that from April 2017, 600,000 small firms will not have to pay business rates, while 250,000 will pay lower rates.