Professor Kiran Trehan responds to the 2013 Autumn Statement

As predicted there no great surprises in the Chancellor’s autumn statement. Whilst the chancellor recognised that Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the key to economic growth: The Chancellor’s autumn statement addresses the concerns of SME’s in relation to business rates, which were capped at 2% rather than linked to RPI inflation. The chancellor also provided a boost for start-up businesses by introducing the business start-up loan scheme to help more people start up their own businesses. The chancellor stressed the benefits to business from curtailing spending in terms of keeping future taxation and interest rates down.

As with finance, difficulties in accessing markets and doing so consistently are faced by all SMEs as well as minority ethnic businesses but little attention was accorded to these key areas. Weaker networks can make market access even more difficult. With a lot of SMEs in particular still reliant on public sector work, including through local authorities, Mr Osborne made little reference to the ways in which plans in any way could encouraging Public sector agencies and large corporates to adopt a range of procurement policies which could make a real difference

Whilst a refreshed small business strategy was highlighted, ideas around more support for growth orientated SMEs, especially those involved in exporting, and some response to Lord Young’s report on Small Firms earlier this year did not take centre stage. The big question remains ‘Will this be enough?’ to satisfy the needs of our SMEs, in our order to ensure their survival, innovation, and economic growth.

Professor Kiran Trehan, Professor of Leadership and Enterprise Development at Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham