By Florian Richter, Director of SumUp UK

The few small merchants able to take time off from keeping their businesses afloat to watch the Chancellor’s speech will have turned off their sets and closed their browsers with a familiar sense of disappointment this afternoon.

While it is great that the Government is making inroads by cutting business tax and extending the small business rate relief to April 2014, the reality is that growth forecast is expected to shrink and little of the relief being offered by the Government in the aftermath of the double-dip recession will benefit small, independent, businesses.

While the plan to freeze fuel prices will be welcomed by those business people who make their livelihoods from–and on–the roads, it is really a stay-of-execution–not a pardon–for most small merchants. Similarly, Vince Cable’s ‘business bank’ (which received tellingly little ‘air-time’ today) sounds promising, but until more is revealed, it’s difficult to know whether it will be a genuine game-changer for small businesses.

All in all, small businesses will need to look to their own strategies if they’re going to survive this economic winter and thrive in 2013 — and that means pushing every small edge. One edge that many independent merchants are giving up at present is the ability to take credit and debit card payments, often due to large upfront terminal costs. Now that processing plastic is as simple as connecting a free reader to a smartphone and downloading an app, we expect to see large numbers of small businesses using pay-as-you-go card payment solutions to help stabilise their cash flow in the months ahead. Banks should also be looking at partnerships like this to offer up more cost-effective ways for small businesses and sole traders to take payments.