Tory Budget Leaves Scotland's Small Businesses Behind
Yesterday I was glad to meet Mike Cherry, President of the Federation of Small Businesses. Our small businesses are vital to the local community and need our support.
Regrettably this Tory budget leaves them out in the cold.
Scotland’s small businesses are facing soaring energy bills, a National Insurance hike, supply chain issues and labour shortages - but nothing was announced yesterday that would offset these problems.
The Federation of Small Businesses Scotland said there were “slim pickings” for Scottish businesses in the budget given Sunak’s forecast of a 4% increase in inflation, and the Scottish Retail Consortium said "there was little...to reduce the actual cost of doing business here in Scotland."
The UK government is playing catch up with Scotland on business rates. The Scottish Government already promised three yearly revaluations from 2023, delivered relief for property improvements in 2018 via the Business Growth Accelerator relief, and offers the most generous relief package for renewable energy generation in the UK.
They face supply chain issues, labour shortages, a regressive National Insurance hike and rocketing energy bills and whilst consumers are protected by an energy price cap, and big businesses can most likely afford the sudden price hike, small businesses are left flailing.
The SNP and the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland called on the UK government, for which the responsibility is reserved, to bring forward measures to support small businesses with the sudden rise in energy prices but our calls were ignored. We also called for the continuation of the lower VAT rate - this was also ignored.
Rishi Sunak announced plans to cut business rates for retail and hospitality by 50% next year. However, last year the Scottish Government offered 100% rates relief to retail and hospitality for a full year - the only part of the UK to do so, and it did that without consequential funding because the Chancellor removed 100% rates relief for those businesses during the year.
Whilst the SNP Scottish Government is doing what it can with its limited powers, the Chancellor must back to the drawing board and come back with a package of measures that will address the issues facing small businesses now.