Halfway through the coalition government: Are small businesses happy?

Lucie Mitchell
Contributing Editor
Sift Media
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This week marks the halfway point of the coalition government's five-year term. But is the coalition delivering on the promises it has made to entrepreneurs and small firms to help them grow, and what more does it need to do for the next two and a half years? Here, the small business community share their views.

Ben Austin, MD of digital marketing agency SEO Positive, said: "The coalition has repeatedly said economic recovery will be led by entrepreneurs and SMEs and this has led to government-backed initiatives such as StartUp Britain being created to encourage entrepreneurialism in the UK. This is all very nice and makes for good headlines, but I wish they would focus on some of the practicalities of running a growing business.
"For example, because we've grown we now have to move onto standard rate accounting meaning that we will now pay VAT on invoices that we issue, which we will have to pay even if our debtors don't. I don't think this sends out the right message - why would businesses want to grow if they are penalised for it?"
Posting in BusinessZone's sister community UK Business Forums, member Herewegoagain said the coalition has done nothing beneficial so far and has taken the 'great' out of Britain.
"VAT is still way too high, tax rates still high, fuel costs are crippling business. I just wish the government could grasp the concept that if the VAT and fuel duty was lower, they would actually be in receipt of more income to the treasury, as people would have more money to spend.
"There have been vast amounts of money passed to the banks, supposedly for the lending to small businesses - the banks appear to be sitting on this money to boost their balance sheets.
"I for one am thinking of 'throwing in the towel' of being in business - with all the red tape and the culture of little or no real support, it is making it 'not worth the aggro for the money'. Some weeks my part-time staff earn more than me. People out there have no spare money."
Sarah Lafferty, director and co-founder of Round Earth Consulting, said: "I don't need a bank loan but please clamp down on the prompt payment code already. This legislation currently has no 'teeth' and large companies are the worst offenders when it comes to paying late. They are literally bankrupting some small businesses just so they can earn a bit more interest. Related to this, other large companies are sitting on huge amounts of cash because they are afraid to invest in the current climate. The government should offer incentives for them to free up this cash."
Another UKBF member, Podge, said: "We have created a culture of greed and looking after one’s own self interests. Not a good trait in politicians who are supposed to be looking after our interests rather than their own."
However, Stefan Knox, founder of Bang Creations International, said that he is very happy with the work the government has done for his business.
"The level of professionalism and support a company receives through the UKTI is a fantastic example of how government can help get businesses into international markets and in turn help grow UK Plc. We have used the UKTI services to take our own products to international markets and all of a sudden we were turning over five times as much as we were beforehand. That’s money into the UK. On the VAT alone the income is far in excess of any financial support we were given. But without their TAP fund we would not have gone abroad.
"It is so easy in this country to moan about government. We often smile when clients suddenly realise that there is help out there and it can make a big difference. We think if you’re a proactive small business you will go and find the help and be very happy with it. If you are a small business and not proactive, you will not learn what is available and just bemoan the government for not helping you."
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that whilst the government have taken positive steps to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, there is still more work to do if there is to be a real improvement in the UK’s long-term growth prospects.
"Ministers must listen to calls from businesses to help them get the finance they need, and provide support to help them find new international markets for their products and services. Action needs to be taken immediately if we are to see the export-led recovery the government has been calling for.
"It's fair to say the government has been high on promises, but so far, low on delivery. In the Autumn Statement next month, we need to see bold leadership that will give businesses confidence to invest, create jobs and grow their companies which will in turn drive the economic recovery."


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By awesomek
09th Nov 2012 19:49

 Are small businesses happy I as a small business owner with a convenience store and post office do not think so.

The government appear to be afraid to enforce what they have told the banks to do, until they do the banks will continue in the same way as they always have including paying big bonuses for bank employees for just doing the job they are paid for. I think the banks support the government in many abstract ways not known to the public.

As to the comment finding help, I have been struggling for 3 years to keep a village convenience store and post office open I have searched the net talked to various government agencies but sadly we are not manufacturing therefore the help is very minimal, we do not matter until we are gone. Then suddenly the village needs a shop and a post office and wow loads of help for "community shops" even to buying the shop the community did not support and has closed,  support such as Big Lottery, I ask you why should any communtity deserve this kind of support when they put the shop out of business by not supporting it in the first place. Try asking all the thousands of small independent van sales suppliers how many shops have closed how many shops are barely surviving how their orders are diminishing daily. now this where we come to the point of goverment support. How the large supermarket chains are expanding quicker than any businesses  in the U.K. opening new stores every month killing off all the small businesses in the area, but they say it is employment but how many of these supermarkets want you to fill your trolley and then operate the checkout and pay for the privilege of working for them for free. The government have put up a token effort to rejuvenate the town centres yet all these supermarkets are opening in the town centres killing off all the small shops have a look on the net one town 3 Tesco expresses within a quarter of a mile what a joke, is the government helping small businesses "NO" 

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