SMALL business lobby group the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has set out its stall for the year ahead by calling for tax and investment stimulants to get the economy moving.
Chief executive Phil Orford said: “With talk of an unprecedented ‘triple dip’ recession, it is no wonder that confidence remains low, businesses hoarding cash and investment intentions distinctly muted.
“Despite this, many small business owners possess the courage and creativity to progress despite adverse trading conditions. What we need during 2013 is a clear national economic strategy which maintains a focus on deficit reduction, lower borrowing and an improvement in our balance of payments, while mapping out a visionary approach to medium and long-term enterprise-friendly policies to give all business the confidence to invest.
“This must be the focus of the Budget on March 20 with further tax and investment stimulants to encourage businesses to spend some of the £700bn of cash on their balance sheets.”
He said the economy had struggled for too long because of the lack of affordable credit available to businesses and consumers.
“Despite a number of government initiatives, the latest of which is the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), the main banks continue to disable growth by applying unreasonable criteria to their assessments of risk and credit worthiness,” said Mr Orford.
“They are institutionally risk adverse, anti-competitive and fail to grasp the scale of the damage they have done, and continue to do. More radical action must be taken to force change now, rather in years to come.”
He also reminded small firms about changes to legislation and HMRC rules.
“The timetable for auto-enrolment rolls on and small businesses should start preparing now for 2015 implementation,” said Mr Orford.
“Real Time Information (RTI), that requires companies to report payroll information monthly rather than annually, creates a huge additional burden for businesses with its implementation in April 2013.
“And with significant amendments to employment legislation, employers need to be aware of how these changes will affect how they manage staff.”
And he called on politicians to pay more attention to the needs of the small business sector rather than focusing on “short-term political survival strategies”.
Mr Orford said: “Instead, they must focus on schemes to support national infrastructure and security based upon long-term planning for roads, rail, aviation, energy and water.
“The Forum of Private Business will continue to provide leadership, support and protection to its members and the wider small business community. We will continue to promote our campaign to ‘Get Britain Trading’ and lobby for Government to speed up its efforts to create the right environment for business.”