Tax Breaks and Support Needed for Business Growth

A Window of OpportunityNine out of ten micro businesses are planning to grow in the next year, but they will need tax breaks and face-to-face business support to do so, a report from Enterprise Nation has found.

A Window of Opportunity, the annual small business report from Enterprise Nation, called for childcare costs to be counted as a tax-deductible business expense, for students to be given business loans and for the roll-out of the Government’s network of mentors to be accelerated.

The report makes seven other recommendations on the back of a survey of 1,224 micro-businesses and small enterprises which found that 91 per cent plan to grow in the next year. More plan to achieve this through outsourcing (49 per cent) rather than taking on staff (26 per cent).

“We need policymakers to recognise how small businesses are actually growing,”

said Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones.

“It’s not necessarily by employing people, but by outsourcing and joint ventures. It shows you can grow a business without the traditional infrastructure. But whenever Government talks about growth, you can bet the next thing they’re going to talk about is jobs.”

The survey also revealed that face-to-face business support was ranked more highly by micro firms than other forms of help.

Dawn Whiteley, chief executive of the National Enterprise Network (NEN), which helped distribute the survey, said the winding down of Business Link face-to-face services had been a blow to businesses. She said the Government’s mentoring network should not be seen as a direct replacement.

“We absolutely agree with the concept of mentoring, but it needs to be part of a holistic range of business support. And there should be some form of guidance to help mentors understand what their role is, some induction into the skills of being a mentor.”

Whiteley also flagged up the problem of policymakers overlooking small-scale “lifestyle” businesses in favour of “high growth firms”.

“The more businesses you encourage and support to start, the more high growth businesses you will get. It isn’t easy to pick a winner in this market.”

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman insisted that the Government was supporting all small businesses, regardless of age and size, and would shortly be launching a “radically improved” Business Link website.

“New start-ups and small firms are right at the very heart of our economic plan – which is why we have introduced a National Insurance Contributions holiday up until 5 September 2013 and announced an unprecedented three-year moratorium on new domestic regulation for micro-businesses and start-ups.”

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