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UK's Small Firms Seek Helping Hand In Next Budget

Monday, November 13, 2017

Noting the substantial contribution to the UK economy that small businesses make, the Federation of Small Businesses has urged the UK to not go on a tax grab at the next Budget – the last before Brexit now that the UK has newly moved to a single Budget event each year.

The contribution of non-financial businesses to the UK economy grew 3.9 percent to GBP1.2 trillion in the year to 2016, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Almost all (99.6 percent) of these firms are small businesses. The number of small non-financial firms grew nine percent to 2.4 million over the year.

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman, said: "Ahead of the Autumn Budget, these stats serve as a timely reminder that the success of the UK economy depends on its small businesses. The Chancellor needs to consider how he'll help further increase the staggering contribution of small firms. Against a backdrop of rising prices, flagging consumer demand, and Brexit uncertainty, small business owners are in need of lifelines at the Budget."

"Small firms are looking for an end to the business rates chaos that's engulfed them over the last seven months. That starts with bringing forward consumer price index-indexation to 2018 and ending the ridiculous staircase tax."

Business rates is the UK's commercial property tax. In the past, firms have typically received one business rates bill covering all occupied space within a building, regardless of whether these were on non-contiguous floors. However, a ruling from the Supreme Court in Woolway v. Mazars in 2015 established a new series of tests to determine whether the business should receive multiple bills for offices in the same building, ruling in that case that Mazars should receive two assessments for its offices on floors two and six of a particular building. This has been called the "staircase tax" and there have been calls from businesses for the Government to remove this unintended tax consequence and in particular for the potential for small businesses to end up paying higher bills than if they received a single bill.

Cherry added: "Off the back of a delay to the abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions (social security), we need a Budget that works for the self-employed. An extension of public sector IR35 tax legislation to the private sphere will make an already challenging environment worse. The last thing small firms need is new tax grabs and loss of entrepreneurial reliefs at the Budget. No doubt the Treasury will avoid biting the hand that feeds it."