When you’re a business owner or worker, busy on your day-to-day work, it can be hard to lift your head up to notice what it is the Government is doing to try to help you out.
According to research we’ve conducted in collaboration with Censuswide, a healthy dose of political cynicism seems to have taken hold of the nation’s SMEs. More than one in three – in fact, 37% – view last year’s Budget speech as irrelevant. They told us that none of the initiatives announced by George Osborne have materialised in a meaningful enough way to impact their business.
What’s worse, in the smaller businesses (those with fewer than 50 staff), the percentage of cynics rose to 45% – almost half.
When asked whether or not their business had improved over the last 12 months, 36.5% said that things were better. In smaller firms the figure dropped again to 28%, and only a tiny 6% of those surveyed told us that their fortunes had improved ‘a lot’.
These figures paint a pretty negative picture, particularly when the Government is keen to state that they are ‘firmly on the side of small business’.
“This Budget does more to back business”, Mr Osborne told us back in July.
So – do you remember the projects that the Chancellor announced in 2015?
Key projects that made up the last Budget included the introduction of ‘new enterprise zones’; raising the Annual Investment Allowance for buying plant and machinery to £200,000; an increase in the national living wage; and the enforcement of pension schemes.
Perhaps these measures weren’t tangible enough to have the impact that UK SMEs are asking for. Some have gone even further, stating that the living wage and pension scheme in particular can be actively damaging.
Fewer than 40% of our survey respondents thought these two measures had resulted in a positive impact.
Our CEO, Anil Stocker, told the press, “Given small businesses represent such a large proportion of our economy it is concerning that the Government has found it so difficult to create a better environment for them to grow.
The Budget can feel like the major event of the annual business calendar, but clearly businesses around the country aren’t feeling the impact. If the Government really wants to be on the side of small businesses, it’s going to need new ideas that actually make a difference on the ground.”