Oxford High Street

Small and medium business are eagerly anticipating the planned reforms to the business rates tax system when the Chancellor delivers the Budget this Wednesday, according to accounting provider Sage.

New research from the payroll and payment systems provider found that more than a third of the UK's small businesses say that reforming business rates would have the biggest impact in transforming their businesses. Tackling late payments came in second - pinpointed by 23% of respondents as the biggest barrier to achieving the full potential.

Business rates, based on property rental value rather than a commercial venture's turnover, were written in the Poor Law of 1601. Many entrepreneurs feel that they are not fit for the digital age, which has taxed retailers with physical presences more heavily than online retailers.

The majority (86%) of small businesses say they will be following George Osborne's Budget Statement, but there are concerns about how much he will consider small and medium-sized businesses when making decisions about public finances. Sage's survey found that 59% do not feel that the Chancellor takes small businesses into account when drawing up the Budget.

Brendand Flattery, president of Sage Europe, said: "Small businesses have been unequivocal that business rates are their top concern and they will be watching the Budget closely. They won't be happy with tinkering round the edges and will want to see the radical reform of a Shakespearean system that has been overtaken by the digital age."