More details on the autumn budget statement by the Chancellor emerged before Christmas and it looks like there’s some good news for SMEs. The focus of the Government seems to be on providing access to finance and support for exporting to the nation’s 5 million SMEs.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Helping entrepreneurs export to new markets and get access to the finance they need are critical to making this a reality. We want to reach and help the 80 per cent of SMEs who don’t seek external advice before applying for finance. The small firms of today are Britain’s international success stories of our future and it is this success that will build the strong, balanced economy that will secure our economic prosperity.”
So what’s going to be available to SMEs?
- £95 million in Regional Growth Funds for SMEs who can’t access commercial funding. This is apparently being directed through RBS, Natwest and HSBC for businesses looking to purchase assets and create jobs.
- Simpler business registration. From 1 April 2012, ‘One-click registration’ will allow businesses to register at Companies House, sign up for PAYE registration, Corporation Tax and Self Assessment, all in one place and online.
- Exploiting the web. Dragons’ Den panellist, Doug Richard, is teaming up with The Department for Business and Yell to provide workshops for 3,500 businesses to help them exploit the global opportunities offered by the internet.
- National Export Challenge is a series of initiatives to give SMEs the knowledge they need to take the first steps into new markets.
- Open to export is a new online resource providing professional advice and allowing UK firms to swap information and advice.
If these are really all forthcoming, especially the access to finances, I’m sure our clients and other smaller businesses around the UK will be rubbing their hands with glee. The simplification of business set-up also has to be applauded but, and forgive me for being cynical, the devil will be in the detail and the execution of these plans. So I remain, I suppose, cautiously optimistic that support will come and more businesses can start to grow, develop and succeed.