A plea for no more red tape

Rob Stevens, chief executive of the British Marine Federation, is wary of the co-alition Government’s new Budget, and will be studying the small print in the hope that marine businesses will get some tangible help rather than face another coil of red tape.

He said: “Despite measures laid out in last year’s post-election Budget, we have found that our members are still finding it difficult to access the finance they need to grow their businesses and market share as we emerge from the recession. We therefore welcome the further steps the Government is taking to support SMEs through practical help such as the enterprise zones and gaining a commitment from prominent banks to increase lending to SMEs. Over the next few days we will be looking in detail at the measures announced in the Budget to help members access all the support they can.

“We will be looking closely at how the enterprise zones develop and will advise our members on how best to maximise the opportunities that they bring. It is important they don’t simply become another layer of bureaucracy but actually channel investment and support into regions that need it most.

“Although we welcome the announcement of measures to help people start up businesses, we will reserve judgement until the details are announced next week by the Prime Minister. We hope it will include advice on how best to access funding. Navigating the complex and bureaucratic process often required to access finance is a problem for our members and one are we are committed to help them solve.

He cautiously welcomed the 5% reduction in Corporation tax over 3 years. Also in a climate where BMF members are still finding it difficult to access the finance they need to grow their business, the he welcomed the Government’s intention to give more support to SMEs.

The BMF is interested in the introduction of Enterprise Zones across the UK and the announcement that 21 are to be created is potentially welcome news. The relaxation of planning regulation and lower business rates will also be beneficial to BMF members.
£76 billion will be made available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), £10 billion more than the banks lent to SMEs in 2010. The extension to Small Business Rate Relief for properties with a rateable value below £6,000. The increase in tax relief available for qualifying research and development from 175% to 225% over the next 2 years.

Although these additional measures are welcome, the BMF still has real concerns about whether the steps taken are enough to make the banks address the barriers that exist in their lending processes. Accessing finance is essential to prepare all of our companies to meet the increase demand at the end of a recession and protect their market share.  The current system can be a burdensome, complex and risk adverse procedure that alienates many small businesses, hampering their ability to develop and grow.

Photo: BBC