The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has warned that following Wednesday’s Spring Budget (15 March) businesses still are in for a rough few months ahead, while adding that it hoped that the forecast for the future will help to improve customer confidence and drive economic growth.
“The Chancellor was upbeat about the economy in that we are likely to avoid a recession, and forecast growth is better than expected,” commented Bira’s ceoAndrew Goodacre. “We wanted to hear about plans for growth and we were told about new investment zones, increased capital tax allowances for business investment and £200 million in local regeneration.”
But while Bira sees these as positive measures, long term, they are not necessarily addressing the challenges faced by the high street today, said the Association.
“We were not expecting much from the Budget,” Andrew continued, “and while we are pleased with the focus on growth, many of the big announcements are focused on long term investment. We hope that the better economic forecasts, and more people returning to work, will improve consumer confidence – often the key driver for high street economic growth. Unfortunately though, there was nothing to ease the fears of indie retailers dealing with the pressures of today.”
Andrew added: “The pressures of inflation, high energy costs and energy support are set to reduce by 95% in April, and wages are set to increase by 9% in April. This Budget may improve consumer confidence, but it does little to boost the confidence of businesses on the high streets throughout the UK.”
Jenny Blyth, owner of online Storm In a Teacup Gifts, which specialises in fun, quirky gifts, told GiftsandHome.net: “The Budget presented by Mr Hunt this week was created with work in mind – the more you work, the better the reward. Unfortunately for micro-businesses like my own, we’re once again completely overlooked and we are left wondering why we are never shown these supposed benefits.”
Continued Jenny: “I work over 60 hours a week, and have started a private pension pot, but I can’t afford to pay into it. We are told that small businesses are here to‘help to grow’ but the reality is far from this. The truth is, to the government, businesses like ours simply don’t matter and when you pour every piece of yourself into your business, this is devastating to comprehend.”