The chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to “turn wise words into action”, after the vast majority of micro firms said they felt “abandoned” by his policies.
As the cost of living crisis continues to bite for retailers and consumers alike, 2,000 independent retailers were surveyed through Not On Amazon’s (NOA)’s Facebook group.
This comes after a new report was released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that 60 per cent of small company owners have concerns for their business in the next month
According to NOA’s poll. 93 per cent said chancellor Rishi Sunak is not doing enough to support them, while just under 90 per cent are finding it harder to make ends meet.
A combination of the impact of Brexit, the pandemic and more recently Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have put huge pressures on the cost of living. Energy and food prices are going through the roof, with the Bank of England predicting inflation to reach seven per cent by Spring.
Just one per cent of the NOA survey respondents said they are finding it easier to make ends meet, while 11 per cent are in a similar financial position to February 2021.
FSB National Chair Martin McTague said: “After being left out of support for households struggling with surging energy bills, small firms now face the prospect of NICs and dividend tax hikes in less than four weeks, just at the moment when Covid support measures end, and business rates bills land.
“Last month, the Chancellor outlined his vision for a new culture of enterprise. He should use his Spring Statement as the moment to turn wise words into action.”
Jamie Rackham, Founder of Not On Amazon, which has 190,000 members, claimed the site’s poll shows the “grim reality independent businesses are facing.”
With nine of out 10 saying they are struggling, he added “the vast majority of small indies do not feel the Government is doing enough to support them, while at the same time letting giant corporations avoid paying the taxes they should.”
Members feel “abandoned”, he said. “Slow sales are bad enough in themselves, but once you factor in rising energy prices and raw material costs, the financial pain is amplified.”
Small business owners on ‘Not On Amazon’ ranged from gift shops to skincare companies, micro-manufacturers to sustainable clothing retailers. 34 per cent aired concerns about slow sales, with almost a third worried by rising energy prices.
Danielle McKenny, owner of the Gaea’s Garden skincare company called the last two years “absolutely devastating for small businesses”, while Jenny Blyth of Storm In A Teacup Gifts said soaring inflation meant “people just don’t have spare cash to spend on things like gifts” so sales have plummeted.
Amin Khan, who runs a sustainable clothing business, PrimaBerry aired concerns that pressures would force the company “to raise our prices and our customers will stop purchasing.”
HM Treasury flagged Rishi Sunak’s comments during the Mais lecture, about cutting tax on business investment, the Recovery Loan Scheme, and today’s £150m injection of more loans to support SMEs.
A spokesperson said: “We have backed businesses throughout the pandemic with an unprecedented package of support including VAT cuts, business rates holidays and government backed loans worth around £400 billion, and we will continue to stand firmly behind them in the months ahead.
“We are also investing in skills, innovation and infrastructure to boost growth for the long term.”