What do business owners want to see in the 2020 Budget?

Credit: HM Treasury

The most anticipated government Budget announcement in years takes place this Wednesday. It comes after a tumultuous few years in politics which included a cancelled Budget in 2019 because of a snap general election and the shock resignation of the chancellor who ended up not delivering a Budget speech at all.

We now have a new chancellor in the form of Rishi Sunak. With Britain having finally left the European Union, entrepreneurs are waiting to see how the government intends to support them through the transition. On top on that, we can add the impact of the coronavirus outbreak into the mix.

I’ll be running live coverage of the Budget on 11 March for Enterprise Nation but ahead of the speech, I asked my LinkedIn followers what they’d like to see in the announcement. Here’s what they said:

Late payment

This issue was raised straight away. Getting invoices paid on time is a massive problem for many small businesses.

Edward Hollands said: “Tighten up loopholes around companies being liquidated then setting up the same business the next day as if nothing happened. Name and shame businesses who are consistently bad payers.”

He speaks from experience after having to take a client to court for non-payment of invoices.

Trevor Overall called for “some innovative thinking” on late payment.

He said: “The government needs to be pushed to change things and left to themselves they are unlikely to. The innovative thinking could come from the FSB, the Chamber of Commerce, The IOD and the CBI [I’d add Enterprise Nation to that list! – Dan].

“They all need to put out to members, run think tanks and come up with something they can all go to the minister with and speak with one voice. So, each of the small businesses out there should become members and lobby their membership organisation to address the issue.

“In the UK we have arguably the best professional services industry in the world. Would it not be a significant feather in the cap of EY, Deloitte, KPMG etc, to come up with a solution?”

Bridie Gallagher added: “SMEs are crying out for support around late payments. At Glass Digital, we’re fortunate enough to be in a position where they don’t affect staff salaries or bills, but they do cause stress and waste time. But I know many business owners whose cash flow is seriously affected by a single late payment.

“There should be protections in place to ensure businesses aren’t put at risk by late payers. It creates instability that’s bad for business, staff and the economy.”

Antonia Welch called for “more support/tighter regulation around late payments”.

Business rates

Business rates have long been an issue too and the government has said it is committed to a review of the system.

Retailer Rowena Howie said: “For my central London retail small business I desperately need full scale rates reform.”

Karl Armstrong said: “Business rates and corporation tax. Government is taxing small business at every opportunity, while big corporations find loopholes to avoid or pay very little.”

Intellectual property and copyright

Cara Sayer called for more protection for smaller businesses when copied by big business. She said: “There needs to be more in place as the onus is on the small business to chase the big one and the big one can just ignore until it has to be taken to court. We need some form of intellectual property tzar or representative.”

In 2019, Cara accused retailer Aldi of copying one of her pram sun shade designs.

Better understanding of small firms

Tina Boden said before the government does anything they need to better understand the needs of Britain’s smallest businesses.

She said: “Government needs to understand that the needs of the smallest businesses are very different to those of big business. MPs, senior civil servants and those that set policy need to get down and their hands dirty to discover what running your own business is really like!”

Helen Farmer said: “I’d like to see all small business support scrutinised, supported, and required to be fully fair and inclusive of everyone, so time, attention and money doesn’t keep benefiting only the same type of people and businesses.”

Support for female entrepreneurs

Rowena Howie said: “I’d like to see the government go further in implementing recommendations from the Alison Rose Review.

“We need to address the problems that result in only one in three entrepreneurs being women and why only half as many women led businesses scale to more than one million as men led. With greater equality of opportunity we would see a leap in productivity and £200 billion of new value to the UK economy.”

Mel Beeby Clarke said: “Affordable childcare for women (and men) starting businesses. The cost of childcare in this country is astronomical compared to others.”

Digital skills

Bridie Gallagher said: “There’s a digital skills shortage here in the North East, so I’d love to see more support for courses and apprenticeships. There are some options out there, but they tend to be quite generic. I think young people and businesses would benefit more from training programmes that home in on specific disciplines.

“We hired digital marketing apprentices in the past, and their broad learning objectives made it difficult for them to fit within a specific department. Training them in multiple roles just isn’t realistic, especially with limited support on salaries, so it’s an avenue we can’t go down anymore.

“The digital industry is growing and that means the skills gap is, too, so I think the government urgently needs to do more to prepare young people for real-world roles.”

Join live Budget 2020 coverage

Let’s see if the chancellor is listening!

Join me from 12.30pm on 11 March for live commentary from a panel of experts on Enterprise Nation. You can share your thoughts too.

I’m keeping track of the predictions and leaks for what will actually be in the speech for small businesses in this Twitter thread.

Published by Dan Martin

Spotty socks lover and grammar fanatic

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