We usually get only one Budget announcement a year from the government, but in 2015 we're getting two!
George Osborne will unveil a special Summer Budget on 8 July and we asked small business owners what they'd like to see included.
We're providing instant reaction today at 12.30pm from a panel of business experts and entrepreneurs during the Summer Budget speech. Join in here.
"Small businesses fuel the UK economy but, while promising business rates reform was announced in the Spring Budget, current legislation just doesn't promote an ideal environment for SMEs. If we're to see truly meaningful growth in this sector, the chancellor should promise further small business rate relief - sooner rather than later."
James Layfield, Central Working
"Abolish business rates."
Paul Johnson, St Kitts Herbery
The number one thing that I want is a review of business rates. At least corporation tax is reflective of the profitability of the business, but business rates are both significant and chargeable regardless of how well the company is doing. Having recently moved offices we have seen a big increase in our rates, but we get absolutely nothing for it. (even our rubbish is collected via a private company as part of the service charge from our landlord) We are in effect supporting the residents of the borough in which we operate, although only one of my staff live in that borough.
"Councils have sought to keep council tax increases to a minimum in order to gain votes, but there has been no such focus on caring for the business population. It is time to reconsider the burden that businesses have to pay to Councils, in my case it is the equivalent of one new member of staff."
Jeremy Stern, PromoVeritas
Tax and accounting
"I have had a few thoughts about what I would personally introduce in the Summer budget, my favourite of which evolved into an idea I've coined the 'Business Allowance'.
"I'm sure many fellow business owners would agree that a Business Allowance, like it's sister the 'Personal Allowance' which lets people earn Â£10,000 without paying tax, would be a welcomed addition. The idea being that it would let every business in the UK make a tax free profit of Â£100,000 each and every year.
"Designed to both help small business owners keep or reinvest what they have worked so hard on, and risked so much for, as well the more mature business that wants to grow, the Business Allowance would be a radical tax change that would shake both the business and political world.
"The clever bit is that the Business Allowance would be almost tax neutral. This is because the savings that will be made will either be spent on new staff (who will pay tax), or on more marketing (which will generate VAT) or for owner/management bonuses (who will pay tax). The new Business Allowance would be a tax relief that will accelerate business instantly, produce massive good will, and cost virtually nothing.
Susanna Simpson, Limelight
"That childcare can be a tax deductible expense, recognising the important role women can play in small business if their entry to it is not hampered by childcare costs."
Anna Day, NorPIP
"Childcare to become an expense. Childcare is so expensive and when you're a sole trader you feel you can't pay for childcare if profit doesn't cover it. Alternatively there should heavily subsidised childcare for the early years of a business and not just for low incomes. Childcare has been my biggest problem whilst setting up my business.It's a big thorn in my side and prevents me from growing."
Lisa Gomm, Tuck Tuck
"Simpler accounting rules. Small business owners find themselves spending large amounts of time, especially at the end of the year, making complex accounting adjustments. These, along with other required accounting calculations, are designed for larger businesses in mind, therefore simpler accounting rules created specifically for small business would make managing accounts a much easier and time efficient process."
Sean Mallon, Bizdaq
"VAT reduced to 15%."
Sarah Watkinson-Yull, Yull Shoes
"I'd champion increasing the Employment Allowance, which is a discount on National Insurance contributions for small businesses. It currently stands at Â£2,000 and I'd like to see that increase to at least Â£6,000. The benefit would be two-fold: for growing businesses it would lower the barriers and risk in taking on their next employee, and for established small businesses it would free up valuable cash flow to re-invest in growth. It's a very targeted measure which unlike many other reliefs will deliver benefits primarily to the small business community."
James Poyser, inniAccounts
Small business support
"Since Growth Voucher applications closed and Growth Accelerator changed its criteria in March 2015 there is a distrinct lack or funding for start up and micro businesses to gain specialist advice. What measures are the government putting in place to help support and fund the growth of small businesses?"
Alison Edgar, Sales Coaching Solutions
"Support for business survival, not just growth or startups! The businesses that then survive will grow naturally and sustainably rather than forced growth, which gives better long term outcomes."
Liz Storey, Ignite Business Enterprise
"Re-introduction of Growth Vouchers but without the restrictions on advice only."
Nicky Parker, Bang Consulting
"At this stage in my micro business, four years in and only just being able to pay myself consistently, I would like to see a fund which micro companies could apply for, giving access to Â£2,000-Â£10,000 which would be a cashflow boost. They would be expected to repay at 0% interest after 12 or 24 months. If businesses are unable to do this after their allotted time, interest could be charged at that point (and a repayment plan). My huge problem is that I have grown but have no cashflow whatsoever. I have to have nerves of steel each month to know if I can pay myself and my delivery team, business partner etc. I would love access to a 'float' which would mean I know I can run the business for another year, enabling me to grow again, which I do year on year."
Emma Dewhurst, WOW (Kent)
"The chancellor should continue efforts started in 2013 with the access to finance schemes, as well as incorporating recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee to build a clear strategy, ensuring that SMEs are made aware of appropriate funding options for their needs.",
Chris Maule, UK Bond Network
"Freeing up of funding and incentives to encourage the purchase of the many thousands of micro businesses such as small hotels, guest houses and pubs which are currently for sale. Many of these sound businesses are owned by elderly owners unable to sell during the economic downturn. Many will soon have no choice but to close down or convert to residential as they can no longer physically run these demanding businesses. One incentive which will help many small businesses and also promote growth is a significant reduction in VAT for hospitality businesses bringing the UK in line with European competition."
Trevor Lockwood, Seafield Lodge Hotel
"We want the government to support programmes which help young people gain the skills they need to be employable in the real world of work. There should be incentives and subsidies in place to support businesses who employ at graduate level, giving them the funds required to train individuals rather than just dismiss an applicant with little experience.
"If we in the UK are to keep up with our foreign neighbours, in terms of technology, we need to work closer with schools, colleges and universities to make sure they are equipping tomorrows works with the practical skills they need to work in the industry. Introducing computer programming lessons in high schools is one thing but we need to make education functional and not just a memory test proven in exams.
"George Osborne said: "The level of skills in this country is unacceptable. We're one of only three OECD contours where the skills of our 16-24 year olds are no better than those of our 55-64 year olds." We need to be better at training our youth and the government need to better support our efforts, recognising the cost in time and expense this requires."
Lee Frame, Bring Digital
"For more established SME owners, I would like to see the chancellor allow these all important wealth creators to make up for lost time on pension contributions as the current system of annual allowances can be very restrictive if you have spent the majority of your working life investing money back in to your business to ensure its success. I believe SME owners should be able to use up their lifetime allowance towards the end of their working lives, regardless of the annual cap so that we can ensure that these hard working individuals who contribute so much towards UK PLC aren't penalised by their decision to forgo the security of a large corporate employee benefits package."
Tony Harris, Contractor Financials
"We want to see definitive legislation on prompt payments from blue chip companies that will protect SME suppliers from late payers. The current terms that many small businesses are subjected to are neither fair nor sustainable, but it is a reality that they have very little power to change. It is up to the government to stand up for SMEs and deliver on their legislative promises."
Tracy Ewen, IGF Invoice Finance
"We would like to see more support for small companies looking to sell to large public sector organisations. There has been a lot of talk about trying to level the playing field with various initiatives, but the procurement culture still leads to processes which are heavily stacked against small business."
Richard Harris, AutoAlert
"A new, more user friendly resource to help SMEs to reach new export markets. UK Trade & Investment trips are great but not tailored so well to the smaller enterprise with very high skills and high value services."
Stephen Archer, Spring Partnerships
"We would like to see assurance that the energy costs of small businesses will not rise as a result of the 'big six' monopoly holding this government to ransom. The proposed reforms as set out by the CMA recently are not enough of an assurance that energy bills will fall in line with wholesale prices.
"As a small business we feel the pinch in every area of our business from the cost of wage increases, to petrol prices, to our monthly heating bills. We cannot afford for this government to sit by and let big business trample on their smaller peers.
"We realise the big six are powerful, but since concerns were raised during the election about prices being unreflective of a drop in oil prices, we have seen a large number of fellow SMEs switch to smaller suppliers loosening the big six stronghold.
"It may not seem very important to big businesses with large profit margins, but to the smaller business, still in recovery, every penny counts and if prices could be allowed to fall by 20% (as seen in wholesale prices) it would make a large difference to the little man."
Phil Foster, Love Energy Savings
Enterprise Nation is calling on the government to do the following:
- Update Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes to reflect the modern and digital economy within which we operate
- Monies overcharged to small firms by utilities and banks should be ploughed back into small business growth services
- Introduce a single EU threshold, below which small businesses will not be required to register for VAT MOSS
- Commit to making childcare expenses for the self-employed a tax-deductible expense
- Back the creation of 'Investors in Small Business' kite-mark for government departments and large corporates
- Nudge the off-shored marketplaces to do more to help small businesses grow
- Introduce a new model of share ownership to recognize how modern businesses are growing
- Ensure the self-employed enjoy the same benefits as employees including health insurance, pension provision and mortgage entitlement
- Open up unused spaces in libraries, Post Offices, closed down bank branches and government buildings to offer small businesses the space they need to thrive
- Create a rapid response unit in/out of the Department for Business to respond to the needs of the smallest of businesses