Autumn Statement: Here’s what the small business community had to say

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"Taken as a package, the announcements in the Autumn Statement address many of the concerns raised by small businesses and are therefore welcomed. The key now is for the Government to be consistent, and set to the task of translating these policy intentions into tangible actions on the ground.

"Targeting the rising cost of overheads is imperative to help firms weather the economic storm that could be heading our way, so measures to limit the rise in fuel prices and business rates are very welcome.

"Small businesses are struggling to access finance and so the enterprise investment scheme will open up new sources of finance for new and growing businesses. We hope that the banks will pass on the lower interest rates to small businesses and that more finance will be available."

Mark Pearson, Entrepreneur and Founder of, said:

"As with every one of these kinds of announcements, the devil is always in the detail. We'll need to really look at the small print to see how far these will go in actually helping boost the UK SME community. As someone who has managed to build a successful business within the UK during a recession, I know how hard it can be, not just in a financial sense. Perhaps what the UK really needs is more money to be injected into business mentoring schemes, as this would certainly have helped me get to grips with the difficult challenges that every new business faces."

Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK & Ireland, said:

"The news that the government will underwrite GBP 40 billion of loans to smaller companies is a great boost for SMEs. However, the growth projections announced by the Chancellor will also have an impact on consumer spending, which could encourage SMEs to consider turning their attentions to international markets.

"This much-needed fiscal boost could represent an opportunity for them to kick-start exporting programmes. Last year exports constituted 29% of the UK's GDP, showing there is real scope for SMEs to exploit the full potential of emerging overseas markets such as the "BRIC" nations of Brazil, Russia, India
and China."

Alex Henderson, partner at PwC, said:

"The Chancellor's plans to restrict the deductions available for asset-backed pension contributions are not unexpected.  The use of assets as part of pension scheme deficit funding has become increasingly popular and we were expecting him to introduce a specific tax regime for this area.

"The final proposals are not far away from the consultation document issued earlier this year so employers will have known to expect something. They may be surprised at the scope of the measures, which will apply from today. But overall the measures look to restrict relief rather than abolish it.

"We expect this area to be of continuing interest for many employers facing deficits in their schemes and employers will be pleased to have the additional certainty of specially designed legislation. The Chancellor is looking to raise significant sums from the change but it is not clear that there is that much revenue for him to go for, as most employers will have been looking simply to achieve what he is now proposing to allow."

Gary Stewart, director and founder of IT professional services company Xceed, said:

"The Chancellor's statement promises a great deal to ease credit and loosen the noose of a complex and ever-changing tax system for SMEs.

"Whilst it's not entirely clear from where he's drawing the funds to lessen these burdens, making it easier and cheaper to secure credit will go a long way to support the growth of UK SMEs.  SMEs and fast-growing companies need access to cash to fund continued growth and the current system is stifling the availability.

"Underwriting £40 billion worth of loans is all well and good but a process needs to be in place to ensure that SMEs can get credit quickly, without running a bureaucratic gauntlet to secure the funds that can support growth.

'Investment into regional growth funds, high-tech investment and start-up tax breaks will encourage entrepreneurs in Britain but George Osborne needs to ensure this support is maintained and businesses aren't crippled when they outgrow these measures."

Annette Iafrate, UK managing director at Constant Contact, said:

"With the economic outlook looking so bleak, we're pleased that the Government has assessed the SME situation and are aiming to provide some long-overdue relief. The National Loan Guarantee scheme and reduced interest rates on borrowing, when combined with the extended roll-out of super fast broadband to 90 per cent of UK homes, takes steps in the right direction to help UK SMEs.

"We hope these outlined measures will translate into real support for struggling SMEs to help them stay in business and encourage new entrepreneurs to have the confidence to start up businesses in the UK."

Michael Stephens, general manager for UK and Ireland at LifeSize, said:

"We welcome the fact that the Chancellor has finally recognised the enormous benefit SMEs provide to the UK economy. The improvements in broadband funding and coverage will improve access to high quality communications infrastructure, which is one of the keys to the success of SMEs and will bring the UK up to the level of other European counterparts.

"The new generation of unified communications equipment running across these networks can deliver an experience that can replace many of the reasons to travel and improve both customer and supplier experiences.  This technology also allows UK-based SMEs to seamlessly reach and service customers offshore and potentially improve the UK export figures in the process. "SMEs should consider using some of the increased funding to improve the productivity and efficiency of their organisations to sustain their livelihood in the long run."

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said:

"The Chancellor stuck to his guns today, and that was the right thing to do. No-one is pretending that it's going to be easy or painless, but there's no credible alternative to the deficit reduction plan. We wanted Plan A with more infrastructure spending, and that's what we got. I believe business confidence will have been boosted by today's announcements."

To read the main points from the Autumn Statement, click here

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