In the Spring Statement, Phillip Hammond, announced that the business rates revaluation has been brought forward and that £80 million will be released to help small firms take on more apprentices. Many will be pleased with both of these moves from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, along with some of the other business focused headlines brought about during his statement.
Overall, the UK economy as a whole has exceeded the expectations of last year and it was announced they have revised the growth forecast for 2018 from 1.4% up to 1.5%. It was also revealed that employment has improved, with 3 million more in employment since 2010, making unemployment close to a 40-year low.
When discussing businesses, Mr. Hammond stated that his party: “are the champions of small businesses and the entrepreneur,” and that the UK government will: “go on supporting British businesses.” But how did he propose they will do this?
Promises to small firms
Business rates re-evaluation has been brought forward
Mr. Hammond announced that the re-evaluation has been brought forward by a year from 2022 to 2021. Last year we found out business rates reviews will take place every three years instead of every five. This was done in a bid to reflect the rental value of properties more reasonably. Although this is a good move for businesses, some have said it does not help those businesses who need help and action now.
Supporting small firms taking on apprentices
The education secretary will be releasing up to £80 million to help support businesses looking to employ apprentices. The chancellor went on to say that they want to see 3 million apprentice starts by 2020.
Improving broadband connectivity
Previously announced was the £190 million challenge fund, which was put in place to improve digital connectivity across the UK. Mr. Hammond revealed in the Spring Statement that around £95 million will be spent on 13 areas across the UK to roll out full fibre broadband.
A cashless future?
The government have acknowledged that the way people are shopping and spending their money has dramatically changed with digital technology and payments. Mr. Hammond stated they will ensure people who want to continue using cash can do so and that the government wants to support businesses who use digital payment methods.
The government are launching a call for evidence to see how they can best help eliminate late payments and the negative effect they have on small businesses and freelancers.
Opinions on extended tax-relief for self-funded training
The government are also interested to hear the opinions of the self-employed and how they could extend tax relief available for self-funded training. This is to improve self-employed workers’ skills and improve overall productivity.
As a whole, the Spring Statement didn’t bring about many concrete promises from the government, but instead more discussion on how they are going to be seeking to improve businesses. Although some of the points the chancellor made are positive and designed to improve the productivity of British businesses, we might question whether or not it is enough for small firms to actually feel or see a difference any time soon?