More than nine out of 10 smaller businesses were left disappointed by this week’s Budget, a snap poll has revealed.
In a survey of its members, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) found that five per cent believe Alistair Darling’s proposals will create an environment for their businesses to develop.
Similarly, 87 per cent said that the chancellor’s measures will not increase business and consumer confidence.
More than two thirds of respondents said that they expected a more realistic budget to be delivered after the general election. When asked how they rated the budget overall, 10 per cent of FPB members described it as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, with 52 per cent branding it ‘average’ and 38 per cent describing it as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
Reflecting widespread anger at the planned hike in National Insurance rates, the FPB’s survey also found that 45 per cent of respondents believed the Budget had a negative impact on employment.
However, some aspects of Darling’s announcement did prove popular.
Just less than nine per cent of those surveyed said they believed the Budget was designed to encourage short-term recovery. Around 19 per cent said that the chancellor’s measures would have a positive impact on both cashflow support and business investment.
Meanwhile, 18 per cent said that the Budget would have a positive effect on business growth support and 14 per cent thought it would improve access to finance.
Commenting on the findings, FPB chief executive Phil Orford said: ‘This research appears to support our initial assessment of the Budget – overall, it fell far short of what we were hoping for and there was a sense that it was very much a Budget for the election.
‘Judging from the feedback our members have given us, smaller firms don’t feel that the chancellor laid the foundations for a better environment in which to do business. At the same time, they’re not taking the Budget too seriously because of the imminent election.
‘However, there were some specific measures included in the Budget that should help some small and medium-sized enterprises – things such as the creation of a credit adjudicator for small firms, the extension to HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme and new targets aimed at helping small businesses get more public-sector contracts.
‘As long as they are administered properly, these schemes should provide tangible, on-the-ground support to smaller firms and the forum’s members appear to appreciate that,’ he added.