Pre-Budget report fails to excite

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Pre-Budget report
fails to excite

The promise of a multi-billion pound package of support for small business in Monday’s pre-Budget report has failed to raise hopes among embattled business owners, according to a poll by Baker Tilly.

The accountancy firm interviewed 622 executives and found that 48 per cent expected that the government would be forced into at least one public climbdown following Alistair Darling’s speech to parliament.

Some 63 per cent of Baker Tilly’s survey expected the PBR to be tax-raising overall.

Among the help expected to be offered to small business owners is a relaxation of the criteria for getting state-backed debt under the small firms loan guarantee scheme.

The chancellor is also likely to unveil more details about which banks are ready to start providing loans from the European Investment Bank, under
the deal announced this autumn to bring forward £4bn of lending over four years.

The Export Credits Guarantee Department could add to the support by extending the insurance it provides for overseas business contracts to those for less than five years. Ministers fear the withdrawal of private sector insurers from the market for contracts of less than two years is exacerbating cashflow pressures.

The PBR will also include the recommendations of Anne Glover’s report on expanding small business access to the £150bn spent each year by the state on goods and services.

FSB urges links with schools

The Federation of Small Businesses is urging its members to sign up to
be school governors to ensure that pupils are made aware of the benefits of running and working in companies.

Volunteers to become governors can apply through the School Governors’ One Stop Shop charity by calling 020 7354 9805 or online at www.sgoss.org.uk.

Private equity seen as healthy

Wealthy individuals have retained a healthy appetite for alternative investments in spite of the turmoil in the global economy, according to a poll by Hotbed, the private investor syndicator.

Three quarters of the 320 wealthy individuals interviewed said now was a good time to increase their investments in unquoted companies or commercial property. Only 13 per cent said it was not a good time to invest.

Many of those asked already favour a higher weighting in alternative assets, with 24 per cent having 30 per cent or more of their portfolios allocated to alternative assets.

They were also bullish about the prospects for generating impressive returns from these investments, with 72 per cent claiming that private equity investments made now would return between two and a half and three times their money over three years.

Gary Robins, Hotbed’s chief executive, said: “Compared with the recent volatility of the stock market, private equity investments must look like a shelter in the storm.”

Currency tool for small businesses

Currencies Direct, a commercial foreign exchange business, has launched an online tool called I-PAYFX to simplify the process of buying currencies.

The service, aimed at small businesses trading overseas, simplifies the transfer procedure while saving users up to 3 per cent per transaction, according to Currencies Direct. I-PAYFX allows users to see exactly what exchange rate they are getting, the company said.

Women bullish about growth

Female entrepreneurs are more bullish than men in their ambition for growth, according to research published to coincide with this week’s celebrations of entrepreneurship.

A survey of more than 1,500 small business owners found that 88 per cent of the female respondents expected to expand their operations in the next five years compared with 74 per cent of their male counterparts.

On average, the women-owned businesses turned over £200,000, growing at 25 per cent a year. The most confident respondents by sector were in health, marketing and media, which predicted annual growth of up to 25 per cent.

The women interviewed were more likely to allocate specific revenue and profit targets to their business than the male respondents.

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