NO individual and no business seems to be immune from the recession and small businesses could be particularly hard hit. It’s not just the lack of customers or that could affect them, but excessive paperwork and red tape can have a huge impact on the profitability of any business.
Recently I have been helping local businesses to become more aware of their entitlement to small business rate relief. For businesses in Wales, this is automatic, but for businesses in England a separate application has to be made.
Currently, firms have to fill out time-consuming paperwork to claim rate relief, despite the fact that Whitehall’s tax inspectors know precisely which firms would be eligible. The Local Government Association has estimated that less than half of the 870,000 firms eligible have claimed the money.
The misery of small businesses is compounded as their business rates are being driven up by stealth. Conservatives would ensure that small firms automatically receive rate relief, cutting their paperwork and tax bills and giving many of them a fighting chance to stay afloat during the recession.
Cash flow is so important for businesses. That is why Conservatives are calling on the Government to offer a six month VAT holiday and to reduce the cost of employing people by cutting National Insurance.
There are other ways we can ensure Britain is one of the most competitive economies in which to do business in the future. Options are to cut the main rate of corporation tax and cancel Labour’s planned increase in the small companies tax rate.
It is also vital that our skill base isn’t lost and ways of improving training must be investigated. Government procurement from small firms must be made easier as well as public sector payment times reduced. We recognise the huge contribution business makes to society – and that’s why it is important that responsible business is ensured.