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Gloucestershire Business News

Chancellor urged to put jobs at the heart of economic plan

The Federation of Small Businesses has called on the Chancellor to take a "jobs first" approach when he outlines his plans for post-coronavirus recovery.

Ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement tomorrow, the FSB says nine per cent of small businesses have been forced to make redundancies.

And 37 per cent have scaled back capital investment, one in four have reduced working hours and 14 per cent have cut training initiatives.

The FSB has been calling on the Treasury to consider:

  • Broad measures to aid job retention and creation, including cutting employer's National Insurance contributions or uprating the targeted Employment Allowance while extending NICs holidays.
  • Further steps to help apprentices and young people trying to enter the workplace.
  • Interventions to bolster consumer demand such as a temporary VAT cut.
  • Making support available to those who have been left out of existing business support schemes, including company directors and the newly self-employed.
  • Ensuring all small firms can reclaim the cost of sick pay where staff have suffered from COVID-19 develop secondary health conditions or have to self-isolate.
  • Tailored support packages for small businesses in areas where local lockdowns have been imposed and 'back to work' vouchers to recover the costs of making premises safe.
  • Taking a student loan-style approach to state-backed emergency loans, allowing small businesses to start repayments once they are making a profit.
  • Accelerating delivery of investment in broadband and mobile infrastructure, while widening access to R&D tax credits.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: "Although small firms are thankfully able to continue furloughing staff for months to come, many are already having to make tough decisions.

"The Chancellor needs to take a jobs first approach tomorrow. Bringing down employment costs and increasing opportunities will be central to recovering from this recession.

"After the financial crash, nine in ten people who left unemployment to re-join the workforce did so through a small business or self-employment, so it's clear where support should be targeted."

He continued: ""It's vital that we have the right help in place for young people who are trying to enter the workplace for the first time or are having qualifications disrupted.

"The Chancellor and Business Secretary must make every effort to ensure that no-one is left behind as they draw-up the next round of interventions.

"If the new normal means more ecommerce, home-working and cashless trading environments then we need to see every single one of the UK's 5.8 million small businesses online with a strong web presence, no ifs no buts.

"That starts with a fit-for-purpose broadband network and incentives to adopt new-to-firm, not just new-to-market, innovations."

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