THE Forum of Private Business (FPB) has written to Chancellor George Osborne with a five-point plan it wants to see included in the forthcoming Autumn Statement.
It is calling for measures to help small firms reduce business costs, boost private sector employment and prepare the ground for sustainable growth.
Top of the FPB’s wish list is call for “a serious and credible announcement” on fuel duty and for the Government to commit to the concept of a fuel duty stabiliser by the end of the current Parliament.
It also wants a cap on business rates of 2% to help bricks and mortar firms hit by competition from online traders and supermarkets.
It wants the cost of employing staff to be reduced by extending the National Insurance holiday scheme and said the Chancellor should abandon plans to force flexible working on all employers, regardless of their size.
Micro businesses have been excluded from the NI holiday scheme unless they are a start-up. The FPB believes an extension would help firms recognise the benefits of retaining those new employees at the end of the NI holiday period.
And in its fifth point, the FPB asked the Chancellor to introduce more incentives for private lenders through alternative sources of finance, to reduce the reliance on mainstream lending.
The organisation’s own research shows 41% of FPB members now feel they have less leeway in coping with business costs than a year ago.
Its Cost of Doing Business report showed that four in five expect prices to continue to increase next year, with 14% expecting a significant increase.
FPB head of policy, Alex Jackman, said: “This Autumn Statement is a chance for the Chancellor to make amends for the disappointment that was the March Budget, and really show he understands the challenges the economy faces. Much of that will be real acknowledgement that Government is doing everything in its power to reduce the cost of doing business for small business.
“While the Government can do little about a stubbornly volatile Eurozone, it does have the capacity to act on a range of issues, primarily fuel duty. Of all the costs to business, fuel hits the largest number of our members. We want to see the Chancellor freezing fuel duty for at least a further six months, and commit to a fair fuel stabiliser before the end of this Parliament.
“It also makes sense to see what January’s OFT report says on its investigation into price fixing in the fuel sector.”