FSB: Autumn Statement focussed on long-term growth

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The FSB has announced its support for the government's recent Autumn Statement

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has issued its response to last week's announcement of the latest Autumn spending review by the chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Highlighting the many changes that will affect the UK's smaller companies in the months and years ahead, FSB national chairman John Allan argued the Autumn Statement announcement could deliver long-term benefits to growth for both businesses and the economy in general.

He commented: "Given the tight constraints that the chancellor was working to, small businesses will be pleased that he has listened to their concerns. Mr Osborne has managed to fund areas that drive productivity and long-term economic growth, such as skills and the science and innovation base.

"He has also committed to funding critical infrastructure projects which are key to successfully rebalancing growth across the country.

"And importantly, small firms will be relieved by the extension of small business rates relief for another year, pending the full reform due in 2017."

Specific changes that Mr Allan was keen to welcome in his response included an extension to the temporary doubling of Small Business Rate Relief until April 2017, which the FSB leader believes will help to ease the financial burden on many small firms that may be struggling to adjust to the impending introduction of the National Living Wage.

In addition, Mr Allan highlighted the significant benefits that an increased commitment to supporting more apprenticeship places and training across the country in the coming years will provide.

He argued that the fact the new Apprenticeship Levy will be based upon payroll rather than headcount is a positive move that the UK's smaller companies will undoubtedly be thankful for. However, the added that while the levy will not be applied to the smallest firms, it is important that these businesses can continue to interact with the apprenticeship system.

All in all, the FSB has welcomed the measures set forth in the latest Autumn Statement in relation to their impact on the UK's smallest firms; although Mr Allan did warn that plans to devolve powers over the future setting of business rates to local authorities will provide opportunities for growth, but also risks for many small firms.