Budget needs to address the real priorities for UK SMEs

Darryl Danielli
Friday, March 23, 2012

In terms of the challenges facing SMEs, I don't think making it easier to shed underperforming staff is at the top of many business owners' wish lists.

The priority should be ensuring that SMEs get access to finance. Whether it’s through increasing competition among the banks or the revamped National Loan Guarantee Scheme (see p4). And whatever is done needs to be more than just lending an umbrella on a sunny day, because all too often, lending criteria are so tight that the only businesses that are able to borrow, are the ones that don’t need to.

Next up, would be the creation of ‘proper’ legislation surrounding late payment. Initially the government planned to introduce the EU Late Payment Directive a year ahead of its March 2013 deadline. However, it has since backtracked and will stick to the EU’s deadline. Either way, leaving the policing of the directive to the indebted firms means it is already likely to fail.

Last and by no means least, there needs to be action on the scourge of ‘phoenix’ companies. I think it’s safe to say that, in print at least, market forces have already ‘cleaned up Dodge’ to an extent – but surely that makes it the perfect time to introduce legislative changes to stop the phoenixes rising again in the future? Apparently not, as the powers that be quietly scrapped proposals to introduce a moratorium period on pre-pack administrations in January.

Here’s hoping that by the time you read this, each of my three wishes for business have been granted and that the budget isn’t just a collection of fairy tales – Grimm or otherwise.

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