One of Cumbria’s leading firms of chartered accountants and business advisers, Lamont Pridmore, was disappointed at the Chancellor’s Spring Statement for failing to deliver anything meaningful to small businesses.
Lamont Pridmore said that few businesses expected much from Philip Hammond, but the lack of any assistance to small businesses was disappointing against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty.
Graham Lamont, Chief Executive at Lamont Pridmore, said that businesses were looking for a “guide to the road of travel” from the Chancellor on the government’s spending plans, its thoughts on investments and its proposals for improving UK efficiency levels.
“No one was expecting much from this Spring Statement, but I think a large number of businesses were hoping for some kind of certainty to help them plan ahead,” said Graham.
“Ultimately, Mr Hammond did little to either reassure or support businesses, both large or small, in his speech.
“It is clear that the UK’s small to medium-sized businesses are struggling with the uncertainty caused by Brexit, with many holding back on spending and investment, so to offer nothing to them will be disappointing to many.”
However, Graham did say that the Borderlands Growth Deal of £260 million should be welcomed on top of the £102 million announced recently from the Housing Infrastructure Fund would considerably help the Cumbria and the Scottish Border economies in the Borderlands area.
In a Written Ministerial Statement released after the Statement, the Chancellor also announced a number of consultations on tax following announcements he had made in the Autumn Budget.
These consultations will cover a wide range of matters, including preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for small and medium-sized enterprises, draft regulation on the National Insurance Contributions (NIC) Employment Allowance that would restrict it to businesses with an employer NIC bill below £100,000 and a call for evidence on lettings relief and the final period exemption, which extends private residence relief in capital gains tax.
“The Chancellor had few tools left at his disposal, other than to let businesses and the public know that the UK economy is ‘fundamentally robust’ enough to handle Brexit,” said Graham.
He added that the only helpful part of his speech was talk of tackling late payments. The Chancellor said that listed companies would have to report on their payment practices within their company accounts. Late payments are currently estimated to cost UK SMEs £6.7 billion annually.
“As the Chancellor clearly identified, late payments are the ‘scourge’ of small businesses, and it is so important to give small businesses the true support they need to grow and flourish in these difficult times.”
Graham said that the outcome of any potential Brexit and the uncertainty that it has created would continue to have a significant impact on businesses and that during these constantly changing times it was essential to obtain a wide range of services from their trusted business advisers upon which they can rely.