How can the new Prime Minister help small businesses?
Our new Prime Minister has now been announced. The choice was between Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, though many people weren’t enthused about either option.
Liz Truss won the leadership contest. Seen as more right-wing and punishing than the country’s very first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, you can perhaps understand why anyone who isn’t a Conservative voter may be alarmed at what’s to come. We’ve already seen energy bills escalate beyond our wildest fears, inflation shoot up seemingly from nowhere, and food prices rising as well as shortages on the shelves. Colder months sitting on the horizon could result in the same level of deaths as Covid was responsible for, if not more so.
Many small businesses will fold—undoubtedly. Independent pubs and restaurants will close in their droves, too. Even Cineworld, one of the largest cinema chains in the UK, has warned that administration is a very real option at this moment in time.
The conspiracists claim that this antithesis of levelling up has been planned for quite a while—as part of the ‘Great Reset’. Others say that a lack of action is down to the government’s need to recoup furlough money paid out during the pandemic.
Whatever the reason, only those at the very top appear to know what it is, as there’s been little action so far to help those struggling at the bottom. We can only hope that there’s a plan in place that’s just yet to be announced, because small businesses are crucial to our economy.
So, what could Truss do for small and independent businesses across Great Britain?
Incorporate a price cap on commercial energy bills
Though the general public could argue that price caps are pretty much useless at the moment, considering the sheer speed and heights energy costs are reaching, they’re better than nothing. This cap could be dependent on a business’s turnover, so that, if there are businesses who can afford to pay more (not that we agree they should have to do so at all when the energy companies are making as much profit as they are at the moment), it’s representative to its takings and profits.
Reduce business rates
On a similar note, business rates should be linked to the turnover of a business, rather than the size of the commercial property—if they are applied at all. The numerous empty units throughout our high streets may then be filled by start-up and small businesses, which have the potential to grow into larger enterprises. Business growth is another essential element of a healthy economy.
This could be an instant win for both the world of commerce and the general population. Cuts to V.A.T. will help growing businesses invest in their enterprises and relieve the almost invisible margins they’re currently working to. A cut in V.A.T. will also trickle down to consumers who may be encouraged to spend rather than save in our flagging economy.
Get out there
There’s no point Truss staying in London and only taking the capital’s conduct as the blueprint for the nation. She needs to venture into all corners of the country, but rather than spewing promises like she did on the campaign trail, she needs to listen carefully and take notes. Issues that businesses face outside of London are very different to what businesses encounter within the M25. London benefits from good transport links, never-ending investment and a concentration of wealth and investment—none of which are guaranteed within cities elsewhere in the UK.
Simplifying the import/export process or providing more support
The Brexit honeymoon is over as of a few months ago, when firms who ship to other countries had another wave of paperwork to try and master. The exportation of even the simplest item could warrant the completion of a 35+ page document. Brexit was sold on the basis that we would have more control over, and more opportunities relating to, goods coming in and out of the UK, but the reality has been nothing of the sort. Even if the red tape can’t be lessened, there could be more support and training in place to help businesses that are floundering against all the rules and regulations that leaving the EU brought to their door.
There are probably more pledges the government could make to ease the pressure small businesses—indeed, all businesses—will soon be under. Whether Truss chooses to incorporate any of the above, and how soon these measures would come into play, remains to be seen.