Waiting in the wings

We’re less than a week away from the Budget and it seems the Tories are sharpening their knives in anticipation.Last week David Cameron issued a timely pledge to cut business taxes and regulation at a CBI summit. After attacking government policy as ‘insulting’ and ‘maddening’, he pledged:"With us you'll know where you stand. An end to economic incompetence and reckless borrowing where we will put stability first, so the foundations of our economy are strong.”And yesterday lobby group The Forum of Private Business (FPB) accused the government of spinning the results of DEBRR’s Annual Small Business Survey 2006/7.The official gov release pointed at ‘steady progress’ on the premise 50% were producing new products and services and 65% had ambitions to grow.The FPB dismissed the stats as meaningless, notably using a European School of Management (ESM) study commissioned by shadow chancellor, George Osborne, to claim small business growth is actually in decline.It reports the proportion of businesses achieving an annual turnover in excess of £1 million fell from 29% in 1998 to 16% in 2006."Entrepreneurs are, by their very nature, ambitious. However, this alone does not amount to progress or growth," warned FPB chief exec Phil Orford. "The situation is, in fact, becoming much harder for small firms.”So who to believe? That’s not for Smarta to dictate, but the pressure is certainly on Alistair Darling to appease business when he delivers his debut red case on Wednesday.

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