A slow dawn

 

Almost a year since we launched our Get Britain Trading campaign there remains a real need to help small businesses create jobs and drive growth. The campaign has allowed the Forum of Private Business to raise awareness of the vital role SMEs play in the UK’s economic health, and the importance of removing the barriers that stand in their way.

It calls for enterprise policies to free up finance, simplify the tax system, create employment opportunities and improve education and skills and create opportunities for growth at home and abroad.

There have been some steps in the right direction. Lending from leading banks is still not easily accessible or affordable, but the new Project Merlin appeals process is overturning 40 per cent of applications originally deemed unfit for approval.

Alternative sources of credit are slowly emerging. Alongside new, innovative funding platforms even some traditional lenders appear to be stepping up to the plate.

However, the amounts are relatively small and stimulating competition is crucial. While plans for tax breaks to encourage venture capitalists are welcome, business owners overwhelmingly prefer borrowing at interest to sacrificing equity. Private lenders should also be given tax incentives so they can drive competition within the financial markets and boost the confidence of entrepreneurs disillusioned with banks.

Cash is key, yet firms are waiting longer to be paid. The total amount of outstanding invoice payments now stands at more than £33 billion, according to the payment body Bacs. The fast-tracking of an EU Directive to standardise 30-day payments is positive but it is high time for more substantial measures. For example, as part of our campaign we are calling for the public procurement process to be used to promote prompt payment best practice.

To make matters worse, costs, particularly energy bills, are rising. Many firms face another harsh winter under the shadow of steep price increases, unfair back-billing and miss-selling by large energy companies and unscrupulous brokers.

Over-regulation and disproportionate taxation remain perennial bugbears of small firms. Our research shows red tape leaves them with almost £17 billion per year in compliance costs.

Following HMRC’s new and largely inflexible record check regime, tax is now their top regulatory burden, followed by employment law.

Amid criticisms from some employer groups, serious discussions about reforming enforcement and compliance procedures are an absolute necessity, particularly for micro businesses with fewer than 10 staff, which are expected to drive employment. It is important to say loudly and clearly that small businesses need to be freed to create jobs in the first place.

We are surveying our members to discover their hopes, fears and expectations for 2012 in order to update the Get Britain Trading campaign in the New Year. Visit www.fpb.org for more information.

Phil Orford is chief executive of the Forum of Private Business

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...