Autumn Statement 2013: A wish list from entrepreneurs and business owners

From a national insurance holiday to 'getting jiggy with entrepreneurs' – GrowthBusiness asks 15 business builders what they'd like to see come out of the Autumn Statement on 5 December.

From a national insurance holiday to ‘getting jiggy with entrepreneurs’ – GrowthBusiness asks 15 business builders what they’d like to see come out of the Autumn Statement on 5 December.

When chancellor George Osborne stands up in front of Parliament on 5 December and reveals the contents of his Autumn Statement there will be a host of entrepreneurs and business owners up and down the country hoping that SMEs will not be forgotten amongst the usual hikes in alcohol and tobacco duty.

05 Dec 2013 Autumn Statement update:

>Business rates capped at 2 per cent to aid SMEs

>Government announces ‘big extension’ of Start Up Loans scheme

>Jobs tax on staff under 21 abolished

>Vince Cable’s business bank gets an extra £250 million

>Entrepreneurs and business builders react to George Osborne’s announcements

> Key points of interest for businesses in under 500 words

> My Autumn Statement stocking feels a bit bare

In recent Autumn Statement and Budget addresses, promising initiatives such as improving EIS and SEIS, a Funding for Lending extension and cuts to corporation tax have been created to help with business growth.

However, there is still on overwhelming feeling that the government isn’t doing enough to help a section of the economy which it has continually outlined as an engine for growth – SMEs.

To find out what those on the ground would like to see introduced, we’ve heard from 15 business owners and entrepreneurs to produce an Autumn Statement wish list.

Ted Goold, chairman of Wells Plastics, says:

‘The Autumn Statement represents an excellent opportunity for the government to back SMEs, and encourage them to grow. It is a shame that this potential has not been fully realised, with many of the policies outlined in the past doing little to ease companies’ financial worries.

‘It will be interesting to see whether the government will continue with the trend of pandering to big businesses and offering support to start-ups but ignoring the established medium sized businesses that are shoring up the economy.’

Alex Letts, founder & CEO of Ffrees, says:

‘I would like to see a raft of proposals in the Autumn Statement to encourage investment in start-ups. Osborne should remove the restriction on EIS relief that currently excludes the founder-directors from participating in tax relief – failing that, an increase in the ceiling on Entrepreneurs’ Relief to £15 million. In addition, I’d like to see a meaningful employers national insurance holiday for start-ups, increased to 18 months.

‘There are far too many over 50’s out of work who have hugely valuable experience. In my opinion, they need to be starting businesses. The chancellor should incentivise this by removing income tax on any redundancy payments that get invested in any start-up within the same tax year. Furthermore, we should pair over 50’s that have been made redundant with young entrepreneurs, using the Start-up Loans scheme as bait. This will exponentially increase the success rate of these start-ups. The incentive should be to double the size of the loan if an over 50 matches the capital.

‘In short, if Osborne wants to see the after burners ignite, he needs to get jiggy with entrepreneurs.’

Tony Wilmot, co-founder of, says: 

‘At we have the ability to see behind the scenes, and we’re aware that employers are being very proactive at interacting with candidates and building a network and a rapport for when the economy truly recovers. 

‘The chancellor should use his Autumn Statement to reward growing companies for surviving the recession and continuing to trade. Now that the economy is on the upturn again, I’m looking for George Osborne to lower taxes on profitable companies, so that they can afford to employ people, and reduce the welfare bill.’

Philip Letts, CEO of blur Group, says:

‘Given that businesses of all sizes are increasingly operating across international borders, I would like to see the appointment of an international small business minister. 

‘This is particularly pertinent after a survey of SMEs found that 48 per cent felt the government wasn’t doing enough to help them. As competition increases for overseas contracts, the government needs to take responsibility and offer the help and advice SMEs need to effectively market their services on the global stage. An international small business minister would be a champion for change that would positively impact SMEs and help drive the success of British businesses overseas.’

Ian Mcgrail, managing director of First Mortgage, says:

‘UK business growth and the property sector are intrinsically linked. During the recession, the property market remained stagnant, yet now the economy is improving, we are experiencing a surge in interest for prospective buyers requiring advice. 

‘That’s why we hope the chancellor will announce he will be freeing up more money from the Funding for Lending scheme in order to boost bank lending to both individuals and businesses. 

‘This will naturally have a knock-on effect on the housing market, as providing greater access to finance for businesses of all sizes will increase personal coffers and encourage more people to purchase or invest in property.’

A look back on The Budget 2013:

Charlie Mullins, managing director at Pimlico Plumbers, says:  

‘The chancellor should use the Autumn Statement to address the high level of youth unemployment, which is in danger of becoming an ingrained part of our economy impacting on businesses and society alike. As the recovery takes hold, the economy will become immune to youth unemployment and will be able to operate with a million 18-24-year-olds out of work or not receiving training.

‘Action has to be taken now to tackle the problem through incentives to business, such as a cut in national insurance contributions for recruiting young people, or more significantly, a national, government-backed apprenticeship programme, which uses money from the benefits pot to part-fund the wages and training of young people.’

Michelle Wright, CEO of Cause4, says:

‘For small businesses, an easing of tax pressures in the Autumn statement would be top of our list, as well as a reduction of business rates. 

‘Having recently moved offices to central London from serviced offices, any help in extending the business rate relief levied on small firms for local services would be particularly useful.

‘Next on our wish list would be support for cuts in income tax for low-paid workers. We have grown our business at Cause4 via paid internships and graduates and so any cuts in income tax for this bracket of work would be beneficial for those just starting out. This would also help us grow and continue our scheme. 

‘We’re really supportive of plans to raise the tax-free personal allowance for low-paid workers to £10,000 from next year. This is a really important policy for all small businesses that employ graduates and interns/apprentices.’

Tom Leathes, CEO of, says:

‘We welcome any tax rate initiatives that assist startups and growing businesses. An extension of business rate relief beyond April 2013 for small and fast-growth businesses would be a helpful and significant step. 

‘The coalition has promised to cut business taxes to 20 per cent by 2015 – that’s great, but 2015 is over a year away and companies need support right now. Britain’s tech start-up scene is seeing rapid growth and there really is some fantastic talent in the UK – but to compete with major technology hubs like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv, the government needs to be an active participant.’

Peter Randall, CEO of Ecovision, says:

‘With today’s high energy prices, coupled with the ongoing need to reduce our CO2 emissions, the government must make clear and specific announcements around government initiatives and grants relating to renewable energy i.e. introduction dates and the rates to be paid to the providers and the public. We certainly don’t want a repeat of the government’s Feed-in-Tariff which both created and killed the solar panel industry in just 18 months.
‘Renewable energy is a way forward for business owners to reduce their energy bills and Cameron needs to silence the naysayers and reinforce his pledge to lead ‘the greenest government ever’.
‘Renewable energy companies, like Ecovision, need absolute clarification around The Domestic Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI), promised by Labour pre-2010 and by the coalition on its election, so that we can define our business model and accurately communicate to customers the financial benefits available from renewable energy.’

Simon Hill, MD at Wazoku, says:

‘We are consistently told how important start-ups are to the economy so let’s see initiatives that back this up. An Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) type concept to PAYE for small businesses would be a real help for emerging firms. Instead of PAYE liability going to HMRC, business owners could offset that liability and use it to pay for a new hire. If this could be done to a max cap of PAYE over a year it would be an innovative approach to getting people back to work, helping small businesses to prosper and bolstering the economy.
‘Working with government also needs to be made easier. Wazoku was G-Cloud Certified earlier this year and whilst that certainly helps, there remains an inordinate amount of bureaucracy when working with government. Smaller businesses often lack the time and resources to tender for contracts which makes working with the public sector feel like a closed shop at times.’

Lucy Burnford, founder of, says: 

‘Established businesses should be incentivised to dedicate a set amount of time and resource each month to nurture small businesses and start-ups. 

‘Banks could advise on how to create and work P&L statements, for example, or a large-scale HR firm could advise a growing business on its HR requirements and obligations for say two days per month month – giving fledgling businesses one less thing to worry about. 

‘Complementary, non-competing organisations could be paired together – they could potentially be able to offer each other their chargeable services at some stage. 

‘We need to establish a culture of collaboration between the big guys and the little guys. Established businesses should be committed to helping grow start-ups and the government could bring in a scheme to facilitate that.’

Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of  Time Etc, says: 

‘Britain’s entrepreneurs need tax breaks if they are to successfully build businesses to profitability. The entrepreneurial journey is so difficult and fraught and, for many people, involves years of risk as well as low or no income. 

‘It would be extremely encouraging to see the government acknowledging this by providing one or two-year tax breaks to those who have successfully got through that period, as a thank you to the small British businesses that have created jobs, wealth and prosperity for the country during very difficult economic times.’

George Smart, founder of Theobald Fox and Coda Fox, says: 

‘This year’s Autumn Statement would benefit from initiatives that promote entrepreneurship by aiding the burgeoning creative and SME sectors. So I would like to see a one-year national insurance holiday for new starters, regardless of their level of employment; an assistance model for overseas government-backed opportunity creation – this way, if there is outward investment for big overseas company trade, the government will make it easier for SMEs to be involved; and streamlining of the government tendering process (SMEs don’t have the resource or time to answer lengthy tendering processes).

‘In fact, it would be helpful if lengthy documents could be shortened and simplified to encourage applications, for example – assistance with VAT withholding across Europe and European payments. Surely, there has to be a better way. 

‘We also need more pressure on banks to provide better credit to help short-term cash flow. Although this is a fairly obvious statement to make, it needs making because this is still not happening… this week’s RBS scandal suggests that quite the opposite is happening.’

Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko, says: 

‘With mortgage and business lending officially down in October, I would like to see the chancellor work on reducing the cost of living. There needs to be less talk about the incumbent’s mess as he has now been in power for over three years and the increase in the cost of living can now certainly be attributed to him.

‘From an employer’s perspective, I suspect that my staff are expecting higher salaries in line with the rate of inflation. As an SME we have had the Work Place Pension statutorily implemented this month; effectively another form of tax that could cost my business in the region of £250,000 (not including administration) in the coming year. 

‘This enforced expenditure, which must be factored into my overheads, has the potential to make any pay reviews for staff negligible and most certainly not meet inflation.’

Colin Stevens, founder of Better Bathrooms, says:

‘The chancellor should cut taxes for businesses if he is to continue to boost the economy. The burden of tax weighs heavily on small businesses and this should change if the barriers standing in the way of enterprise are to be broken down. If the government can reduce the costs on small firms then enterprise will flourish. It is the success of SMEs and start-up companies across the UK that will inspire further creativity and dynamism in business. 

‘Business rate relief for small companies should be extended past its current expiration date in April. Senior Tory MPs seem to agree that taxes should be lowered to help families and small businesses to cope. Relief from rates have already been extended regularly since the Tories came to power and this pattern should continue in plans for how we should move on from here. The Tories must prove that they are not simply interested in big business.

Don’t miss our comprehensive coverage of this year’s Autumn Statement on 5 December.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

Related Topics

Early Stage Funding