As always, this year’s Autumn Statement unveiled a few surprises whilst some policies met expectations. In light of this, we asked our readers how they felt about the announcement.
Conor Shaw, Vice President, General Business and Partner Channels, SAP felt that this year’s Autumn Statement is yet another reminder that the Government’s priority is supporting small businesses with the small business rate relief doubled for another year:
“High-growth mid-sized businesses, referred to by the CBI as the “forgotten army”, are however the bedrock of the UK economy.
These businesses, with revenues of £250m-£600m, are huge employers and most likely to thrive even when economic conditions fluctuate. That is why the Government needs to do more to propel their growth.
The Government mustn’t just focus on small businesses. It must do more by introducing policies that lower the barriers for high-growth mid-sized businesses to innovate. By doing so, the UK PLC is able to solidify its prosperity in the global digital economy.”
James Campanini, VP EMEA, Blue Jeans Network felt that the focus was very much on improving prodicuvtity among UK businesses:
“Improving productivity rang through in this years’ Autumn Statement – we need to export more to emerging markets such as Africa, Asia and South America, we need to access the right skills, and we need to be thinking globally. It’s a big ask for businesses across the UK and somewhat of a daunting one at that – particularly for small businesses.
In line with these changes, there is a real need for these businesses to take a step back, and assess just how ready they are to take on the challenge of competing effectively in this global climate. A key starting point is infrastructure and technologies; analysing what tools are available that can help remove boundaries, whilst balancing budget restrictions. For organisations, the Autumn Statement shouldn’t be seen as a worry, but an opportunity to review processes and realign ways of working to ensure the workforce – and business – is better equipped.”
Rich Preece, Vice President and Country Manager at Intuit UK is in favour of the Autumn Statement but highlights the fact that securing funding just isn’t enough:
“This is a positive Autumn Statement for SMEs. The boost in bank lending creates a genuine funding option for entrepreneurs and small businesses as they strive to make their business a success.
Unfortunately, SMEs’ financial challenges go way beyond securing funding. Often poor financial management is one of the reasons why so many firms fail. In fact, our research shows 44 per cent of SMEs either run out of cash or come very close within the first three years of trading.
Now that the government has moved to make more cash available to SMEs, the challenge for them will be to manage their finances carefully as they start, run and grow their business.”
James Kershaw, Director of SME at Colt Technology Services is concerned that the focus is too much on smaller businesses, forgetting the mid-sized organisations:
“The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement includes measures to support small businesses, but mid-sized companies across the country are likely to feel short changed. This is not the first time either.
Three years ago, the Chancellor unveiled the £150-million SuperConnected Cities programme. Driven by a commitment to ensure that 95% of the UK has access to at least 24Mbps of connectivity by 2017, the programme includes a Connection Vouchers scheme that enables any business with up to 250 staff to receive up to £3,000 off of the cost of installing or upgrading their Internet connection.
Yet, many businesses, large and small, are still struggling with unreliable, out-dated copper networks.
With the UK’s exports to EU countries worth £211 billion, high-speed connectivity is critical for businesses, enabling commerce, trading and partnerships, and propelling the growth of the economy. To prevent slow networks from holding the UK economy back, the Government needs to extend the Connection Vouchers scheme beyond its current end date of March 2015, and make the vouchers available to mid-sized companies too.”
Whilst generally the Autumn Statement seems to be well received, Ed Reeves, co-founder, Moneypenny and Penelope doesn’t feel so positive about what The Chancellor unveiled:
“On the face of things, a £1bn boost to small and medium-sized enterprises and rates relief for small businesses sounds like great news. But, while we welcome any initiatives that assist SMEs improve business we remain concerned these measures aren’t enough. Figures from the Bank of England still show that the Funding for Lending (FLS) scheme has thus far failed to increase net lending to small businesses. Let’s hope the other funds end up going to where they should. We keep hearing that SMEs are the engine of the economy so now is the time to push the pedal to the metal. I suspect much more needs to be done if we’re to see lasting results.”
It’s clear a balance is needed, the Government is going some way to supporting UK businesses but there is also an onus on organisations themselves to also take responsibility and make the right investments that support both short and long term growth.