From the top · 22 November 2016

Small business remains undecided about Philip Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver his first Autumn Statement on 23 November

Recent insight into the thoughts of small UK business owners has revealed a significant lack of trust and familiarity with the chancellor Philip Hammond, just one day before he is due to deliver the 2016 Autumn Statement.

A snap poll, conducted by management consultancy Lansons, among more than 500 decisions makers at small companies, uncovered that just 27 per cent trusted Hammond with the UK economy.

Of the respondent business owners, 20 per cent admitted they trusted the former chancellor, George Osborne, more than Hammond, while 34 per cent said they didn’t trust either man to handle the country’s finances.

The lack of trust in Hammond may be the result of his relative unfamiliarity. The poll’s findings revealed that over half of small business owners were not familiar with the chancellor’s policies.

The findings indicated that the major concern for small business was medium-term economic uncertainty following the vote in favour of Brexit on 23 June this year, with 35 per cent of respondents emphasising that market stability should be Hammond’s top priority.

Head of public policy at Lansons, James Dowling, said that this year’s Autumn Statement represented an opportunity to make his mark on Britain’s economic future. “If he is to succeed, Hammond needs to use [the Autumn Statement] dramatically to build his profile and confidence among small businesses,” he added.

Early forecasts predict Hammond may introduce a number of measures to help small UK businesses when he makes his Autumn Statement speech to parliament on 23 November.

An increase to personal tax allowances has been rumoured, as has enhanced measures to protect small firms against late paying and costly suppliers, and assistance in securing public sector contracts.

The survey also revealed that small business views on whether or not the UK economy will enter a recession following the Brexit vote have remained largely unchanged. Before 23 June, 43 per cent of respondent decision makers thought the economy would slow should the UK leave the EU – a figure that has since dipped to 41 per cent.

However, the poll found that in total, two thirds of small business owners still believe the economy will be negatively impacted by the Brexit vote.

Labour Party promises stronger safety net for self-employed workers

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.


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