As the voice for millions of SME customers around the world and more than 800,000 businesses in the UK, Sage surveyed a sample of 400 small business owners, which revealed an undisputable call for the government to deliver on key issues such as business rates and red tape for small businesses.
“The UK economy is at an exciting place today, with unemployment rates at a record low and soaring trade figures. Yet consumer confidence and high street footfall is down, and there are over 40,000 empty shops in the UK," commented Lee Perkins, Managing Director, Sage UKI, referring to the high business rates keeping small businesses off the high street.
George Osborne has outlined the priorities for the summer Budget, including new laws to set into stone no rises in income tax, VAT and National Insurance. Mr Perkins noted: "which is all very positive for small businesses, but our customers would also like to see immediate action tackling the current inefficient and outdated business rate system in the UK”.
“Heading into his first budget after the Conservative’s election victory in May, Osborne has a clear foundation of confidence from the small business community with over two thirds stating they are either very or fairly confident he is able to deliver economic growth over the next five years. Osborne has a task ahead of him to deliver tangible results despite a show of confidence as over a third of small businesses saw no real change to their business position over the last five years.”
Millions of companies in the UK are defined as ‘small businesses’, accounting for around a third of the entire private sector’s turnover. At present, there are almost 1.2 million of these small businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of less than £12,000 and they make up less than six per cent of the total tax revenue from business rates. The impact of these high business rates on small retailers, however, is staggering, with industry projections indicating that one in five of these companies would be forced to close by 2018.
Reducing red tape is also a major priority for small businesses, with more than half of business owners in the survey citing this as an issue the Chancellor should prioritise.
"If the Chancellor is to follow through with the Conservative party campaign message that it is with the ‘grafters and the roofers and the retailers and the plumbers’, he will need to demonstrate the government's support of small businesses with clear actions that could ultimately lead to a British small business renaissance.”
The survey data is taken from Sage’s research into UK small businesses in June 2015. The research featured 363 respondents from across the UK.