The chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to reduce business rates and introduce meaningful measures to offset the effects of coronavirus in today’s budget.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on the chancellor to increase the Employment Allowance, reduce business rates, and reform entrepreneurs’ relief.
It is asking for an immediate introduction of a statutory sick pay rebate and to widen the eligibility criteria for HMRC Time to Pay arrangements, as well as ensuring banks take a lenient approach to repayments.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Today’s Budget is the Chancellor’s first big test, and an opportunity to show he is unequivocally on the side of the small business community at an uncertain time.
“Supporting small firms that are being impacted by the spread of coronavirus means both introducing new, targeted measures and delivering on existing promises. The horse has already bolted in many countries, so it’s critical that the chancellor takes action now to mitigate any future escalation of the situation here in the UK.”
Earlier this week UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nichols called for a moratorium on business rates for a minimum of three months, and payment delays on VAT, PAYE and NICs to ease cashflow.
She said: “Hospitality businesses are on the front line, so to speak. There has been a significant impact on the sector. Bookings are down, footfall is down, and all signs point to it getting worse before it gets better.
“This is now an emergency for our sector. If government doesn’t act to mitigate the impact and give us support, businesses are in danger. This means cash flow becomes a problem, venues are under threat and jobs at risk.
“By the time the immediate threat of the virus has subsided it may be too late for some businesses. Support is needed and it is needed now.”
Meanwhile, the Bank of England has announced an emergency cut in interest rates to 0.25% in a bid to shore up the economy. Its move is expected to free up billions of pounds that will provide banks with the means to support struggling firms.