The Budget 2013: Entrepreneurs react to George Osborne's fourth Budget speech

Following the culmination of George Osborne's Budget speech to parliament, GrowthBusiness speaks to entrepreneurs to find out if they're happy with what was announced, and what they would have like to have seen included.

Following the culmination of George Osborne’s Budget speech to parliament, GrowthBusiness speaks to entrepreneurs to find out if they’re happy with what was announced, and what they would have like to have seen included.

George Osborne opened his Budget address by saying that it was one ‘for people who aspire to work hard and get on – for people who realise there are no easy answers to problems built up over many years’.

The chancellor said it was a Budget for an ‘aspiration nation’, one which doesn’t ‘duck our native problems’. We’ve spoken with entrepreneurs from up and down the nation to find out if Osborne’s address stuck a chord with them.

More on the Budget 2013:

Chris Futcher, CEO of The Pulse Umbrella Group, says: 

‘It is pleasing to see that George Osborne has taken the first £2,000 off employers’ National Insurance bill. This “employment allowance” will allow us to increase the net salary of those on our umbrella payroll. 

‘This means it’s a better deal for those contracting with an umbrella company, who often fill crucial and specialist roles in the workplace.’

Alex Letts, CEO of Ffrees Family Finance, says:

‘George Osborn’s budget was, he said, about aspiration. He did in fact deliver some hope for enterprise, with the employment allowance for small businesses leading the pack. 

‘We saw a modest capital gains tax break, some improvements to the investment regime and a reduction in corporation tax. But getting the economy out of this mess needs real stimulus, innovation and enterprise. 

‘He needed to do much more to help people start and grow businesses and make a meaningful reduction in capital gains tax. Despite the aspiration, the prospects for real growth still look glum.’

Florian Richter, UK managing director of SumUp, says:

‘The majority of the small, independent merchants we work with will have been left cold by today’s budget. The economy is lying prone and the chancellor is still proscribing morphine rather than wielding the scalpel of genuine relief.

‘Small businesses need access to funding far more than they need general infrastructure improvements, fuel duty freezes, or even job and corporation tax breaks. 

‘The government’s strategy of trying to get banks to loan more to small businesses is just not working. When Vince Cable’s British business bank eventually materialises it must be independent of the high street banks and it must take its cue from the private sector and offer easy-to-access financial products tailored for small businesses in the process of expanding.’

Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, says:

‘It’s really disappointing that today’s budget speech included no reference to the tech industry. Last year we were inspired with the promise of incentives to support UK tech investment, and a vow to make the UK the tech centre of Europe. But George Osbourne was curiously quiet on this today, leaving us to wonder what has happened to last year’s bold claims.

‘Osbourne remains focused on reducing the UK’s deficit, but in today’s internet focussed world, surely there’s no doubt that encouraging our technology industry is absolutely key to economic growth and success? The UK has the ideas, energy and innovation to make the UK a world leading technology centre, but it needs the right support and investment.’

Paul Aitken, CEO and founder of borro, says:

‘The chancellor’s promise today to look at whether the Funding for Lending scheme can be extended is just not enough. Businesses have waited and waited for more decisive action and it looks like they’ll be waiting even longer. Hot air from the chancellor does not put pounds into the bank accounts of the nation’s small businesses.

‘While we of course welcome the government’s numerous promises to breathe life into the UKs business sector and support the nation’s entrepreneurs, we need to see it walk the walk– and not just talk the talk. 

‘There have already been moves made to stimulate business growth, through various initiatives over the past year, including the Funding for Lending initiative of course, but this is yet to have a truly positive effect. As a result, millions of small businesses still have no confidence in the banks and have turned to non-bank financing.’

Tim Pat-Dufficy, managing director of ServerSpace, says:

‘What may end up being coined the Beer Budget after the chancellors scrapping of a rise in beer duty; it has a significant impact for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

‘I welcome the chancellors cut in corporation tax and National Insurance payments by companies. The shackles that have been placed on SMBs have been loosened, if only slightly. This will help business owners like myself to grow and will increase confidence to employ more staff to accommodate this growth.

‘But there was no mention of lowering business rates for commercial property. This is something that would help reduce the overall cost placed on businesses and would increase the confidence of business owners.

Anil Stocker, co-founder of MarketInvoice, says:

‘There are some clear positives for small businesses in this year’s budget. The new Employment Benefit will give a great boost to small firms in the UK. Even this small cut will make hiring easier and ease the burdens of getting a business off the ground.

‘Likewise the promise of new infrastructure spending is positive, with £15 billion more over the next decade. The spending is good news for the thousands of SMEs responsible for fulfilling public works projects.

‘But frankly, the failure to acknowledge the difficulties that SMEs face in accessing finance and to direct funding to the companies that can get it to them seriously weakens this budget. Osborne has failed to confront the failure of Funding for Lending and other schemes. He should stop handing money to the banks that they won’t lend to small businesses, and start embracing the innovative new alternative lenders that are already doing just that.’

Stephen Fear, the British Library’s Entrepreneur in Residence, says:

‘The news about the increase in jobs created by the private sector doesn’t surprise me because while travelling around the country I have noticed jobs being advertised outside businesses on boards, a bit like we used to see in the 1970s. I have been mentioning this for the last few months so it came as no surprise to me that the small to medium size enterprises, such as those I support in my role as Entrepreneur in Residence at The British Library, are beginning to create the wealth and jobs the country needs so badly.

‘I think the overall Budget was quite good given what the chancellor has been left to deal with. It is impossible to continue spending more than we earn so tough decisions have to be made if we are to nurse the UK economy back to health.

‘Focus should have been applied to building relationships with the Tiger economies such as China, Brazil, India and Russia ten years ago rather than being so Eurozone focused but at least this coalition government has recognised this and are trying to do something about it now.’

James King, managing director of Find Invest Grow, says:

‘It’s great to see the National Insurance changes announced in the budget. We believe any measure to reduce this for early stage businesses will have a huge impact. 

‘For start-ups, the decision to hire is often influenced by National Insurance contributions: it can stop them from hiring or reduce the wages on offer. This will help make hiring decisions easier, helping to boost employment in the UK.’

Julie Walters, founder of Tudor Reilly, says:

‘This is a bold Budget for business, which is absolutely what hard-working entrepreneurs need in tough times. I drew up my wish list  last night for what growing businesses need and he’s delivered both: a further cut in corporation tax and cuts in national insurance contributions. Brilliant.’

James Layfield, CEO of Central Working, says:

‘It’s really not clear how this Budget delivers on the chancellors promise of an “aspiration Nation”. It’s really not a Budget for start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs – the measures may make a difference to big business. 

‘He hasn’t revised the Loan Guarantee Scheme, the tax changes will only really have an impact for large companies, and the National Insurance changes are really ambiguous. We need some real clarity around what this £2,000 NI initiative will actually deliver and how it will work.’

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, says:

‘The most significant change is that all small businesses and charities will receive an entitlement for a £2,000 Employment Allowance per year to go towards their employer National Insurance contributions. This will be a massive help – particularly for small businesses looking to hire their first employee.

‘The abolition of Stamp Tax on shares for companies listed on growth markets such as AIM will also be very beneficial in encouraging UK SMEs to grow, and I’m also happy to see the Chancellor highlighting the benefits of employees having a stake in the businesses they work for.’

Alex Hilton-Baird, CEO of the Hilton-Baird Group, says:

‘Restoring confidence to the country was rightly central to the chancellor’s latest Budget amid the increasingly bleak economic picture.

‘However, businesses need immediate and wider reaching support. That the chancellor stated the government is only “considering” an expansion to the Funding for Lending Scheme, which has had little impact on business lending so far, is a concern and means the issue of access to finance remains unaddressed. It will be interesting to see whether the business bank will resolve these challenges.’

Patrick King, Director of Liverine pet and animal healthcare, says:

‘There is plenty to be positive about from this Budget. As a small business, simple things like the fuel duty rise scrapped and a rise in income tax will help provide that extra income in my own pocket to reinvest back into my business. 

‘I look forward to seeing these new developments for small businesses and applying them for my own business growth.’

Chris Meredith, CEO, says:

“The chancellor made some really positive comments in the budget which will go a long way in helping the nation’s SMEs.

When you start your own business there are a plethora of costs which have to be taken into account and these only increase as our company expands. So removing national insurance costs for 450,000 UK SMEs is definitely a step in the right direction.

‘However, we would have liked to see the chancellor take action on empty property rates (EPR). Within the flexible workspace industry this has become a tax on business growth and even job creation.

Ben Wakeham, founder of VIDA FX, says:

‘As an entrepreneur and the founder of a fledgling business I was really encouraged by much of what the chancellor has to say in the Budget.

‘One of biggest factors stopping small businesses employing more people is national insurance payments, so removing this burden from 450,000 of the nation’s smallest business is a positive move.

‘Also it’s good to see that government procurement for small firms is going to increase five-fold.

‘However, I would have liked to have seen more action on encouraging the banks to lend more to small businesses.’

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.

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