By Max Clarke
“Today is the day Britain steps back from the brink”, said Chancellor George Osborne today in preparation for his pro-growth Budget.
Encouraging business and stimulating enterprise were the driving force behind many of the policies announced, including; the fair fuel stabiliser; research and development tax credits, and a reduction in corporation tax. But was the Chancellor’s comment simply political rhetoric, or has today marked the start of renewed entrepreneurialism in the private sector: backbone of the nation’s economy?
Business owners and experts discuss with Fresh Business Thinking the various changes introduced in the Budget and their likely impact on enterprise.
"This was a ‘no surprise’ Budget which shocked the nation with its positive tone.” Commented Andrew Hubbard, Chair of Tax at business advisory firm RSM Tenon. "Today the Chancellor reinforced the Government’s commitment to support business as the drivers of economic growth to the country. The reduction in corporation tax, doubling of Entrepreneur’s relief and increase to R&D tax credit reliefs are all welcome announcements.
"The Chancellor has stuck to the direction of travel clearly marked out in June last year and it’s reassuring to see that he hasn’t diverted from it.
"The review of the entire taxation system will help to provide the long-term foundations needed to simplify and modernise the regime benefiting both businesses and individuals," concluded Hubbard.
“The changes to EIS, R&D tax credits for SMEs and the extension of Entrepreneurs’ Relief to £10 million all sound like joined up thinking for smaller, entrepreneurial companies.” said Rakesh Shaunak, chairman of leading accountants MacIntyre Hudson, echoing the support voiced by Hubbard.
“The Plan for Growth offers some very useful access to finance measures for SMEs. We need more detail on how the proposed Business Angel Co-Investment Fund and the £2.5 billion Business Growth Fund will operate but it does seem to be a measure to help those SMEs with the best potential for growth.
“Reducing corporation tax combined with removing charges for foreign investment in UK businesses do seem as if they will help Britain to become a more competitive place to do business.
Money and debt recovery expert Jamie Waller also commented on the positive impacts for business: “Well..... what a budget. I think [George Osborne] did a fantastic job and has been very true to his word. He has put fuel back into Britain’s economy and was truly business and family focused.”
Mr. Waller was not, however, uniform in his praise for Osborne’s policies, adding: “I have a huge concern over [the] proposed Green Bank. The Government loaning money to high risk projects will be disastrous. When it all goes wrong, we will all end up paying with an increase in the very things that have just been cut e.g. corporation tax etc. This is a Northern Rock situation and you would have thought the Government would have learnt their lesson.
"We speak to small businesses owners every day and throughout the recession they have told us their top priority for government is a reduction in red tape." Said Brendan Flattery, CEO of Sage UK- providers of software to over 800,000 small enterprises across the country.
“Whether or not George Osborne’s Budget will amount to his promised ’Bonfire on Red Tape’ remains to be seen, but the three year moratorium on regulation for small businesses can only be good news for small business owners.
Matching Flattery's support of red tape reduction is Young entrepreneur and climatecars founder Nicko Williamson: "I am not sure what is meant by no new regulation for businesses with less than 10 people, but anything that will make running small businesses easier, by cutting red tape, is positive."
And finally, concluding the discussion on today's landmark Budget is Evette Orams, Managing Director of Hilton-Baird Financial Solutions.
“It was billed as the “budget for growth” and, if the reality matches the rhetoric, George Osborne’s first full Budget certainly contained some initiatives which will be positively received by UK business. Specifically the decision to cut corporation tax by 2% and cancel the fuel duty escalator will provide a much needed boost for businesses trying to get on track after the recession. On a more macro level we also welcome any attempt to simplify the tax system as a reduction in the crippling administrative burden business owners face each year. The proposed 15% increase in credit to Britain’s SMEs is also a noble aim — we will have to see if this will actually come to pass and would certainly advise all business owners to explore all options when it comes to sourcing business finance as there are many options out there in addition to the more traditional funding avenues'.”