We blame the government, say SMEs

Small businesses are sick to death of the Government's inability to curb their rocketing costs...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

According to a study by the Federation of Small Businesses, almost 90% of owner-managers believe that Government policies to tackle rising costs are making it more difficult for their businesses. By contrast, a measly 1.6% said the policies were making it easier, while everyone else had no opinion either way – a fairly damning indictment of Gordon Brown’s efforts to force oil and commodity producers to drive prices down (witness the largely fruitless trip to Jeddah this weekend).

The Government has been very quick to blame the recent economic upheaval on the spiralling price of oil and other commodities. And it’s obvious why: this largely absolves them of any responsibility for the mess that we’re currently in. However, the FSB reckons that it would be very easy to make life easier for a lot of small businesses – for example, by using the increased tax revenues from North Sea oil to trim fuel duty until the prices stabilise (assuming they ever do).

However, there’s no sign that the Treasury is planning to do anything as helpful as this – presumably because it can’t afford it. We’ve been so busy spending in the last few years that there’s not much cash in the bank for voter-friendly measures like this – and the Government can hardly blame OPEC for that…

So all in all, it’s perhaps not surprising that small business confidence in the Government is sinking to new lows. In response to the question: ‘Are you satisfied that the Government is currently taking the right decisions in the interests of small businesses?’, a whopping 96% said they were fairly dissatisfied or very dissatisfied (just 2.1% claimed to be fairly or very satisfied – perhaps they were all debt collectors?). ‘With the end of a period of relative stability, small business confidence in the government has plummeted in the last couple of years’, says FSB National Chairman John Wright.

According to Wright, the problem is that the government is desperate to stay onside of the big corporates, but couldn’t care less about their smaller brethren. ‘All we see is government consulting big business, with small businesses being left out of the loop,’ he said. ‘But small businesses produce over half of UK GDP and it is important that their needs are addressed if we are to get through the current economic difficulties.’

More importantly for Gordon Brown and co, these businesses represent a lot of potential voters. And with an election likely to appear on the horizon before too long, he can’t really afford to be alienating any more of his support base...

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