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Budget must boost confidence

Business counting on Chancellor to deliver on Wednesday, says Forum of Private Business

The Forum of Private Business has said the Chancellor must deliver a business focussed Budget on Wednesday if he’s serious about lighting the economic touch paper.

The small business support organisation has said its members are desperate to see positive announcements on business rates, fuel duty, and exactly how the Government is planning to inject fresh life in to the Funding for Lending scheme.

The organisation, which is based in the Tatton constituency where George Osborne is the serving MP, has warned anything but a radical, business friendly Budget capable of shifting the economy into top gear, will be seen by its members as a fail.

'This is a defining week for the Chancellor,' said the Forum’s Head of Policy, Alex Jackman. 'Budgets are never an event to fly under the radar but this one is significant.

'While our members support the overall approach of the Chancellor’s speed of deficit reduction, without doubt they need some cash flow favours on Wednesday.

'Business rates and fuel head the list of businesses biggest costs and some longer term certainty – rather than incremental postponements – over both of those would help enormously. On fuel we would love to see the Government get serious on fuel duty, not with just another postponement, but an outright cut to put money back in to the pocket of consumers.

'We know the vast majority of small businesses would also welcome with open arms some form of fuel stabiliser. Not only would this keep the price of petrol and diesel at affordable levels, it would allow SMEs to plan ahead with certainty that there isn’t a huge price spike around the corner as we’ve just seen.'

He added: 'On business rates too, the pips are squeaking. Government can’t keep clobbering businesses with hike after hike. It was a case of enough already years ago, and any more increases on Wednesday will be seen as an assault on entrepreneurship, particularly retailers, who are really struggling at the minute.'

On FfL, Jackman added: 'There’s been talk of Government putting a rocket under its flagship FfL scheme since the news it was failing to hit business lending targets. That would certainly be welcome, just how they do that, and quickly, we don’t know. The facts are too much FfL cash has gone to the mortgage markets, and this needs to be refocused on SME lending.

“Essentially though, this has to be a budget that really helps businesses be confident in the economy going forward. Business is expecting a lot from the Chancellor, and we know he can deliver much of what they want.'

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