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Budget 2014: Missed opportunity for mid-sized Britain

Today's Budget announcement missed the opportunity to boost Britain’s overlooked army of mid-sized businesses. Research shows they need help to export more, invest in people, gain access to finance, and reduce the burden of regulation they face.

Jonathan Riley, head of Tax at Grant Thornton UK, said, “Research carried out by Grant Thornton in our Agents of growth report, reflected the needs of mid-sized businesses, those with between 50 to 499 employees. They called for greater assistance in three key areas: to help them export more, especially to the growth economies of BRIC and MINT; for further reductions in the tax on jobs, so that specifically they could employ more apprentices; and to further ease access to finance. Some measures in today’s Budget are welcome, such as the increase in the annual investment allowance to £500,000, and the further extension of the Export Finance to £3billion with lower interest costs to those who access it.  But the Chancellor could – and should – have done more to boost investment and jobs creation.” 

The oversight bears out the challenge from Grant Thornton’s research, in conjunction with Cebr, that Britain’s 34,000 mid-sized businesses are not properly recognised by Government and Whitehall. This is surprising, given the £270 billion they contribute to the UK economy and the 4.2 million employed by them. Grant Thornton called for greater support for mid-sized business with the introduction of a tax credit scheme for companies exporting to the developing economies of BRIC and MINT, and NIC exemptions in respect of all apprentices taken on by mid-sized business.

Riley added, “A Budget for savers and pensioners can’t be begrudged. Surely today's focus should be on growth though? Stimulating growth in the dynamic growth orientated companies that innovate, export and employ should have been higher up the agenda.”