The Autumn Budget - your views

ended 27. October 2021

Rishi Sunak today delivered the Autumn Budget. We sought reaction from small business owners in multiple sectors around the UK. They can be seen below.

 

15 responses from the Newspage community

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"Overall this was a good Budget for Britain's small firms, especially on the business rates front and for those in the hospitality sector that have been through hell. Yes, you always need to go through the small print as that can hide many a sin, but first impressions are that it is a positive Budget. "English and UK winemakers will have received a particular boost from the Budget, as they tend to produce lower strength fizzes and wines. The lack of sun in this country has ironically delivered a fiscal lift to local UK wine producers. "The Chancellor seems committed to driving business growth through innovation, cutting companies the slack they need to grow, and generally improving productivity around the country."
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"From most people's perspective, it really was a nothing budget. No major changes to income or CGT rates, pensions nor inheritance tax. The Chancellor teased about major reforms on business rates then proceeded to announce more regular valuation adjustments and just temporary relief for the hospitality sector — hardly large-scale structural changes. "When the major tax announcements are on the smallest of taxes such as tonnage tax and domestic air passenger duty, this shows how much the Chancellor was scratching around the edges of tax reform. "The benefits for pubs and hospitality is good to hear, but that really is just small beer compared to the opportunity there was to reform business rates properly."
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Chris Sanderson
CEO at Limber
“The 50% cut on business rates announced in the Budget will be a massive boost to the hospitality sector, which has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Every penny counts and those extra pennies will go a long way to bring hospitality businesses back to their pre-pandemic health. Businesses in the hospitality sector will be popping the sparkling wine corks to celebrate, as that’s just got cheaper, too. There are still difficult times ahead but this has been a decent Budget for the hospitality sector.”
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“The additional spending on R&D reliefs is welcome and it is particularly encouraging that the Government is modernising the R&D tax relief schemes by allowing cloud computing and data costs. What we don’t know yet is whether the additional funding will end up in the hands of SME businesses, who are the lifeblood of the UK economy, or if it will be swallowed up by a small number of multinational corporations. For too long there has been an institutional bias on the R&D front, favouring the largest companies over the smallest."
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"The devil is always in the detail but higher earners should be delighted that pensions tax relief seems to have been left alone. I'm also happy that the Chancellor is finally correcting the injustice of lower-paid employers in 'net pay' pensions schemes not receiving tax relief."
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"So the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors get a 50% discount in business rates, but what about some help for the Hair and Beauty industry that is still plagued by Covid with last-minute cancellations and no shows? Especially for the mobile therapists who received absolutely no help at all. Rishi says we have a few tough months ahead but it feels more like a few years for those in my industry."
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"This was the usual pantomime performance of positive propaganda, but beyond the bluster there was very little in real terms to help the millions of self-employed people who are the backbone of the economy. Rishi Sunak said he is "backing business and entrepreneurs" but what about all the small business owners who are themselves in poverty, earning a pittance while prioritising their staff, paying decent wages while going without themselves? When will we see real change to genuinely help these businesses, especially those that have been excluded from COVID financial support? They have been forgotten and left lagging behind."
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Jez Lamb
Founder at Beers@No.42
"The devil's always in the detail. It's brilliant to see alcohol duty cut on draught beer but that's only for 'containers' more than 40L. This is great for the big breweries but so many smaller craft brewers only supply in 30L containers. This just further supports the big players in the market, not supporting the smaller, independent breweries who need support most."
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"Thank God Rishi has reduced the 63% reduction in universal credit when working families earn money from employment or self-employment. But the disabled, often unable to work, are still living under the poverty line. It's still the choice between eat or heat for them."
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"Rishi Sunak might want to consider changing his name to Rishi Snake-Oil as that's what he's selling. Unfortunately, the numbers don't add up without the addition of significant cuts in areas we're yet to find out, or painful tax rises, most probably a combination of both. The Chancellor talks of levelling up, considerable increases in budgets, admits that unemployment is still growing. Inflation is expected to peak at 4%, with debt to GDP still rising for the next few years. Not to mention the introduction of his fiscal charter, which is nothing more than a political stunt, and could see the UK economy hung by its own petard. "The Tories will not want to break the fiscal charter and be seen to renege on these commitments. We don't need gimmicks that can and absolutely will backfire; we need pragmatic politicians that deal with the situation before them rather than grandstanding, which so far is all that has happened. "It's not all bad news; it's great that the public sector pay freeze will be abolished - let's just hope that the rises are above inflation; otherwise, that too will be more smoke and mirrors, and it's high time that the minimum wage is to rise to help the lowest paid in society. "However, as always, it's given with one hand and taken with another. Rishi mentioned he'd written to the Governor of the Bank of England reaffirming the commitment to keep inflation at the target of 2%, and given it's likely to peak at 4% according to the OBR; you can bet your bottom dollar that a base rate rise is on the cards sooner rather than later. "What does all this mean? In reality, services will continue to be squeezed, mortgage rates will likely rise, the poor will be left by the wayside, and this deleterious government will continue to ride roughshod over the country until a real opposition and credible alternative can muster the strength to stand up to these charlatans."
Don't get me wrong I understand that the pandemic has hit the less advantaged more than most but small business owners are part of that. With the current hourly rate at £8.91 with on-costs (the uplift to 15.05% in NI and pension, a small business owner will be looking at an approx total of £10.41 per hour. In April 2022 this is going to increase to £11.21 which is a 7.7% increase in costs for a small business. This is a HUGE increase in cost for a small business and many are going to really struggle to pay this - which with the war on talent becoming more about money - Small Businesses will not be able to complete the increasing cost of salaries.
"As budgets go, this one was underwhelming and if it was focusing on a high-wage and high-skills economy, then the initiatives put in place fell short of setting the foundations for this future. It was expected that wages would rise, however, businesses will need to consider other things, such as hybrid working, culture and the wider employer brand to remain competitive in the jobs market considering unemployment is expected to peak at 5.2%. "Employers are going to have to consider how this budget will impact them. Whilst we’ve seen continued increases to the living wage over the last few years, we are starting to see a squeeze point, particularly at Junior to Middle Management level. It’s all relative. And continually increasing salaries at the bottom end of the salary scale, while not appraising salaries at the junior and middle level may mean that - in what is an increasingly competitive market - talent is lost. "The government is trying to continue the work they have done in apprenticeships. This is great for some skills, but potentially limited in scope to those who can’t or don’t take that pathway. The incentives offer a considerable amount to encourage people to do apprenticeships at younger ages. While the apprenticeships initiatives have largely been successful, there is a big gap in adult skills. As such, we are seeing an impact on the jobs market. "You can hire in skills and experience that you don’t have within the business, and that’s one way that you can look at your skills gap at the business level. However, with the changing landscape of the workplace, and as part of the drive to retain people, the emphasis needs to shift to personal development. The government will be providing more funding for skills training - which will help businesses in upskilling their whole workforce and associated personal development programmes."
"It's always nice to see a rabbit-pulled-from-the hat during the Budget. Unfortunately, the rabbits all escaped several days ago and have been bounding over the front pages ever since."
"I'm personally loving the 50% off business rates for hospitality and retailers. Rishi and his team seem to have thought hard about keeping this Budget neutral but with benefits where urgently required. Let's hope the OBR are correct in their forecast of a British economy that will grow again next year - 4.5% this year and 6% next, which will gain the extra VAT and Income tax that's sorely needed to pay back our giant deficit."
"Increases in corporation tax, National Insurance contributions and a rise in the living wage and minimum wages can all be forgotten by small businesses that are struggling to hang on in there, in a haze of pints from Wetherspoons coming in at 3p cheaper."