Budget 09: business dismisses ‘trivial’ Budget

Alistair Darling, chancellor

Efforts announced in the Budget to relieve pressure on struggling small
businesses have been labelled ‘trivial’.

Experts dubbed the doubling of capital allowances on investment as a missed
opportunity because the crisis means companies have little or no money to

Chancellor Alistair Darling revealed plans to extend the ability of
businesses to carry back trading losses against profits from earlier years to
November 2010 and double a temporary first-year capital allowance incentive to
40% during the Budget.

But the capital allowance measure, estimated by the government as ploughing
£2.2bn back into business between now and 2012, was met with criticism and
experts accused Darling of doing little to aid businesses that cannot obtain
funding for capital investment.

Bill Dodwell, tax partner at
said the sums connected to capital allowances should have been spent making the
loss carry-back measures much more beneficial and called the policy’s effects

‘We would have preferred to see the so-called cash invested in this to go
into loss relief rather than the extra capital allowances which, as you can
imagine, isn’t going to help you if you’re losing money.

‘It’s absolutely a smoke and mirrors façade. If you’re an SME, you will be
thinking you got nothing of value out of this Budget,’ he said.

At the centre of the Budget was a declaration from the chancellor that the UK
economy would return to growth ny the end of this year with GDP rising by 1.25%
in 2010. However, the economy will shrink overall in 2009 by 3.5% and public
borrowing will rise to £175bn this year and to £173bn in 2010.

Darling also announced a new 50% tax band for those with incomes over

Nick Parker, regional director of tax for Tenon, said for SMEs to gain the
capital allowance incentive, there has to be investment and the vast majority of
businesses are too cash poor to begin spending.

‘Investment just isn’t a priority for SMEs. Loss carry-back, on the other
hand, benefits everyone irrespective of whether you’re capital intensive.

‘They could have increased the amount and all they’ve done is extend the
ability to claim back a loss a year,’ he said.

According to Stephen Alambritis, spokesman for the Federation of Small
Businesses, while the Budget ‘wasn’t hurtful, it wasn’t helpful’.

He said the FSB welcomes the changes to the loss carry-back scheme, but it
could have been extended further to November 2010 as outlined.

‘Loads of small businesses are still making losses and we wanted that [loss
carry-back] extended until at least the recovery holds. It would’ve been nice to
get two or three year chunks of being able to claim back through the loss
system,’ he said.

The change to capital allowances, according to Alambritis, is fundamentally
aimed at larger businesses and therefore ‘isn’t going to be of much use to tiny


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