Forum celebrates key victories for small firms

Published:  25 March, 2010

CHESHIRE: The Forum of Private Business highlighted several key small business-friendly measures included in yesterday's Budget.

The FTB particularly hailed the four-year extension to HMRC's Time to Pay scheme, together with the creation of a dedicated helpline for second-time applicants to the tax deferral process.

It was also cheered by the implementation of a five-day target for payments by public bodies and by the creation of a 'Credit Adjudication Service' with powers to overturn loan refusals.

Time to Pay recently emerged as the most popular government scheme in a poll of FPB members. In its Budget submission, the FPB also called for more certainty to be provided around the scheme - and for clarification over the position of second-time applicants.

FPB's chief executive, Phil Orford said: "While we're sceptical of the motives behind some of the measures announced in the Budget, coming so soon before a General Election, there are some reasons to celebrate.

"We had asked the Chancellor to clarify and extend the Time to Pay scheme as it can be a lifeline for many small firms struggling with cashflow difficulties.

"The creation of a dedicated helpline for second-time applicants should help to clear up some of the confusion we've highlighted over whether or not Time to Pay is a 'once only' option.

"The target for 80% of invoices to be paid within five-days for businesses supplying to central government departments should also be welcomed, though we acknowledge that many government departments are already paying the bulk of their invoices within 10 days.

"The Chancellor's intention to increase the amount of government work being awarded to small firms by 15% should help some small businesses, as long as it is implemented properly and fairly.

"Many small firms are put off by the bureaucratic processes involved in bidding for public sector work, so there is the danger that this could simply involve more contracts going to the same number of companies," he concluded.

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