So, I don't think throwing money at small businesses and causing more debt and bigger expenses is the way through these difficult economic times, I believe that we must use the resources that have been created by these circumstances.
What resources are these?
1/ Empty Spaces.
Leaving shops empty, or sticking pictures of pretend businesses over the windows, does not help to create a cohesive community.
Either make these spaces into homes or free business spaces.
The budget needs to enable councils to let entrepreneurs, local groups, volunteers and so on use these empty spaces by brokering a deal between the landlords and the potential tenants, where the tenants have to leave as soon as a long term tenant appears.The councils have the contact details of the landlords, as these are the ones that would have to pay the business rates, when the property is empty, after a certain time.
Business rates need to be brought back to zero for these temporary tenants, for 6 months, after that time, they should have enough idea of whether the business is sustainable or not.
There are now several people that unhappily have no work but would be willing to learn and to work but how can small businesses employ them, when keeping the business sustainable and cashflow healthy in these times is a balancing act in itself? Why not match these people and their talents and desires to apprenticeships, or job roles that suit them and they still get paid unemployment benefit or the business receives funding directly for this job creation, the small business doesn't have to pay but the person that's looking for work with be contributing to a small, local business and in turn, helping to regenerate the local economy.
There are apprenticeship schemes at the moment but they mainly target young school leavers, rather than unemployed people, also the business is not given the money directly and has to wait for it to be paid to them after laying it out.
Come on! It's obvious, if the parking charges are so high and people can't just park for half an hour, pop in and buy something, then people are not going to use the shops in the town centre. Parking charges have to go completely, or the charges must be very much reduced, what about 20p for each 30 minutes.
If people spend their money on the parking they can't spend it in the shop. Parking costs more than a coffee these days, how rubbish is that for a business like mine!
The tax for the end user. My business is not the end user but still has to pay large amounts of VAT, as our turnover is not high enough to register, not paying the VAT on their rent would be an amazing help for small businesses like ours. No one wants the extra time and hassle in registering to be a VAT business if they don't have to and people need to be encouraged to spend, the public need to have more pennies in their pockets. I've heard about the concept of helicopter money, where lots of extra money is printed up and then thrown out of a helicopter but then the value goes down and you can buy less with it because there is more about. So instead of helicopter money, why not slash the VAT back to 10% or maybe even 5%, reward those in business by giving them bigger margins to play with and reward those that are still spending, by making things more affordable! If less people are buying because the VAT makes it too expensive, then bringing the VAT right down, should increase sells and reverse the trend to stagnate.
3 month credit terms need to be made illegal. All small businesses must legally be paid within 14 days if they agree to giving credit. No large businesses should ever be able to get away with waiting 3 months before paying and this includes councils.
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Whatever the budget brings, I'm sure that with our optimistic way of looking at things we will see the positive in any perceived negative and whatever happens on Wednesday we will continue in our campaign to help small, local, independent businesses not just to survive but to thrive!