Budget 2011: after the dust settled

The spin has spun and the fast-talking is done.

So, two days on, what’s the feeling about Wednesday’s Budget?

Most commentators agree that, overall, it was definitely a Budget for small businesses. Particularly when it comes to encouraging growth. However, the path ahead for SMEs is far from smooth. While they should remain optimistic the advice is clear: proceed with caution.

Additional points of note: more generous research and development tax credits are now available for smaller businesses in the science and technology sectors, and the lifetime limit of capital gains tax entrepreneurs’ relief is being doubled to £10 million.

But there were also some missed opportunities for the small business community – particularly from an employment perspective.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) notes that with unemployment at 2.5 million, it’s disappointing the government didn’t extend its National Insurance Contributions (NICs) holiday to existing businesses as well as start-ups.

John Walker, FSB national chairman, said:

“The government has committed to cutting red tape, but we believe new employment laws will still come into force this year which could hinder businesses from taking on staff. The biggest opportunity missing from this Budget is by not extending the NICs holiday nationwide to existing businesses, which would really have provided incentives for small firms to take on more staff.”

A Budget for financial growth then. Just not necessarily headcount…

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