One of the East of England’s leading firms of accountants, Moore Thompson, has criticised the Chancellor’s Spring Statement for failing to deliver anything meaningful to small businesses.
Moore Thompson said that few businesses expected Philip Hammond to pull any rabbits out of his hat, but that the lack of any assistance to small businesses was disappointing against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty.
Mark Hildred, Managing Partner at Moore Thompson, said that this time around businesses would not be looking at what the Chancellor said, but what he failed to say.
“No one was expecting much from this Spring Statement, but I think a large number of businesses were hoping for some kind of certainty to help them plan ahead,” said Mark.
“Ultimately, Mr Hammond did little to either reassure or support businesses, both large or small, in his speech.
“It is clear that the UK’s small to medium-sized businesses are struggling with the uncertainty caused by Brexit, with many holding back on spending and investment, so to offer nothing to them will be disappointing to many.”
In a Written Ministerial Statement released by HM Treasury after the Statement, the Chancellor also announced a number of consultations on tax following announcements he had made in the Autumn Budget.
These consultations will cover a wide range of matters, including preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for small and medium-sized enterprises, draft regulation on the National Insurance Contributions (NIC) Employment Allowance that would restrict it to businesses with an employer NIC bill below £100,000 and a call for evidence on lettings relief and the final period exemption, which extends private residence relief in capital gains tax.
“Unfortunately, the Chancellor had few tools left at his disposal, other than to let businesses and the public know that the UK economy is ‘fundamentally robust’ enough to handle Brexit,” said Mark.
He added that the only glimmering hope in the entire speech was talk of tackling late payments. The Chancellor said that listed companies would have to report on their payment practices within their company accounts. Late payments are currently estimated to cost UK SMEs £6.7 billion annually.
“As the Chancellor clearly identified, late payments are the ‘scourge’ of small businesses, but this one step is not enough to give small businesses the true support they need to grow and flourish in these difficult times.”
Mark said that the outcome of any potential Brexit and the uncertainty that it has created would continue to have a significant impact on businesses and that during these constantly changing times it was essential to have trusted advice upon with they can rely.