If anyone out there was hoping that, come Budget day, the Coalition Government would finally consider a U-turn on its policy of fiscal austerity, prepare to be disappointed.
At the Conservatives’ spring conference on Saturday, David Cameron told the audience that his party has ‘never been more up for the task of turning this country around’, insisting that the best way to do that is stick to the course.
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But for now, here are some thoughts from MT’s readers and followers:
The Federation of Small Businesses called for greater incentives for SMEs to hire more people, as well as helping them get access to more finance.
‘The Chancellor needs to put clear plans in place for the Business Bank. Not only should he set out the role the new institution will have in getting this finance to small firms, he should also show how the bank should help open up competition in the banking sector and encourage non-bank sources of finance.’
The Forum of Private Business said that this Budget will mark a ‘defining week’ for the Chancellor, saying that the FPB’s members ‘need some cash flow favours on Wednesday.’
The group’s head of policy, Alex Jackman, said:
‘Business rates and fuel head the list of business’s biggest costs and some longer term certainty, rather than incremental postponements, over both of those would help enormously.'
And whilst SMEs are calling out for non-bank finance (because banks simply aren’t doling it out), Barclays head of retail and wholesale, Richard Lowe, focused on consumer issues:
‘Retailers are crying out for the Government to stick to its pledge of doing everything it can to ease the cost of living in next week’s Budget. The high street pumps more than £300 billion into the British economy every year so while scrapping the planned fuel duty rise in itself won’t change the status quo it will prevent life from getting any tougher.
‘Estimates suggest some families now spend up to a quarter of their income on running a car, making even the most basic tasks, such as the weekly shop, expensive – but scrapping the fuel duty rise as part of a package of incentives would certainly start to make things easier for consumers and, hopefully, encourage increased spending.’
This approach doesn’t help the banks directly of course, but given the raft of recent scandals in the financial sector – PPI, interest-rate swaps, Libor rate-fixing et al – banks can hardly call for a corporation tax cut and more ‘laissez-faire’ financial regulation. Standing up for the consumer makes for a nice little PR exercise against that backdrop.
Then, a word or two from some SMEs themselves.
The MD of Bishop’s Move, (a family-owned removals company) Al Bingle, said stamp duty on properties should be reduced or at least suspended:
‘Not only would a stamp duty holiday act as a stimulus for the property market but it will have a significant impact on the general economy as a whole. Another failure to introduce [a holiday] for first-time buyers will undermine the government’s own previous attempts to kick start the property market.’
Jason Woodford, CEO of a digital marketing agency, SiteVisibility, said the government should offer more flexibility for firms to take on trainees:
‘Small and mid-sized businesses that invest in employee training as well as firms that hire students in skilled jobs must be rewarded, and relaxed payroll tax measures is the way to do it. By doing so, this will encourage more businesses nationwide take on work placements and trainees.’
Here are some other #Budget2013 requests from Twitter, which, at the time of writing was alive with views on the subject…
Dear Chancellor please may we have a fair business rates system & 2 hours free parking in town centres, that's all i ask. #budget2013— Nick Croker (@StationeryPlus) March 18, 2013
Most effective measure #GeorgeOsborne can take to start recovery in UK Economy would be to RESIGN NOW, make way for someone who can count— torytowncrapola (@torytowncrapola) March 18, 2013