We spoke to a range of small firms throughout the country to find out their reaction to announcements made in the 2012 Budget. Here's what they said…
Neil Westwood of Magic Whiteboard
"Any budget that focuses on lowering taxes for working people has to be a good thing, so increasing the personal allowances gives a strong positive message.
"Also, lower Corporation Tax for businesses will be welcomed. Freezing vehicle duty for haulage companies will also help lower costs for businesses. Simpler tax processes for lifestyle businesses will also be beneficial.
"Apart from that, I didn't get a feel this was a budget for small businesses (or large businesses). Will it help create jobs for one million young people? To encourage employers to take the risk and employ people National Insurance contributions should be reduced by 1% for every person they employ for the first 10 people.
"Another good idea would be to offer entrepreneurs loans for young people who don't want to go to university but want to set up their own new business, up to £2000. New businesses spend money and create jobs in the economy; more needs to be done to encourage this. Marks out of ten? 6/10"
Helen McAvoy of ROCKTAILS
"The National Loan Guarantee Scheme is another Project Merlin, big plans and big figures (£20bn) but it's a damp squib. A 1% point reduction on loan interest isn't much use if the majority of SMEs can't get the bank loan approved in the first place. Enterprise Loans – if they're properly managed and rolled out – should see significant success. Young people may even get a better return on investment compared to investing in a university education.
"The integration of NI and income tax should be pushed ahead ASAP. It will help reduce confusion and admin for companies starting the daunting process of hiring their first member of staff. No mention of the NI holiday as yet, which has been an encouraging initiative."
Andrew Milbourn of Kiss the Fish Ltd
"Reducing Corporation Tax is a welcome break and it will help to provide income with which small businesses such as mine can more easily employ staff. I'd have liked the Chancellor to have dropped the rate by more and faster than promised.
"Simplifying tax for low turnover businesses is a sensible move, although we'll have to wait and see how it works. Certainly merging income tax and national insurance is sensible and should cut down on time spent on administration.
"The freezing of any further increases in fuel duty is a good, I think it could have been very damaging if he'd increased it by any amount. I'm not unhappy with this Budget. The chancellor has helped my business – although not by much."
Elaine Clark of CheapAccounting.co.uk
"After cutting through the puff and noise from the 2012 Budget speech, what did it really contain for our micro business clients being those who, in the main, have a turnover below £250K? The most leaked budget to date is leaving me wondering why on earth I spent an hour listening for what results in no immediate changes for the micro business – we already knew what the tax rates were from April 2012, see our recent blog.
"So what of the proposed cash accounting system for businesses with turnovers of less than £77,000? Yes this could mean some simplification of the accounts preparation, but my guess is that many already operate a cash accounting system. How many would know what the accrual system is if you asked them?
"Plus, as usual, it's jam tomorrow – a promise on something that may or may not happen following a consultation that could take months or years and could end after the term of this Government anyway."
Ian Sharland of Baby Sensory
"The Chancellor alluded to a scheme whereby young people starting a new business will be granted access to loans. Hopefully these loans will be as readily available and similar to those attending university and thus only repayable when their business can afford it. Many people leaving university can't find jobs and therefore they can't repay their loan. A similar loan to someone who starts their own business will place the recipient in a job where they will be learning and paying tax long before they would complete a university education. The more successful young entrepreneurs will also in many cases create jobs.
"Young entrepreneurs who are uncertain about what business opportunity to pursue could take on a franchise where they will, in many cases, be supported while they develop business skills that will serve them well throughout their working lives. Loans for young entrepreneurs should not be subject to more rigorous inspection than loans to students. Some new businesses will fail, but the entrepreneur will learn and the loss will be no greater than that of a student who is unable to find a job."
Ruth Lopardo of www.loveitloveitloveit.co.uk
"My initial reaction, before the full details are winkled out, is that this budget is a damp squib for small businesses. It's a relief to see that children's clothing remains VAT-exempt. I'm disappointed that there's no real stimulus for small business growth. More details are needed on tax simplification and the expansion of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee.
"Changes to child benefit could be bad news for small business-owners with children – the self-employed have no access to childcare vouchers. For sole traders, it will be interesting to balance the increase in personal tax allowance against the reduction in corporation tax to see if an accelerated move to incorporate may be worthwhile."