Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently refused to rule out further tax rises, calling the pandemic a “fiscal meteorite”.
Speaking at the Tory Party conference in Manchester, the Prime Minister praised the UK’s economic recovery which is so far ahead of other G7 nations.
Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg highlighted that the country was already at the “upper reaches” of the tax burden.
There have been, however, tax cuts previously that have both boosted business investment and total tax take. When EIS tax reliefs were last extended in 2011, investment into small businesses that qualify for the scheme rose by around £1bn, while it has been estimated that for every £1 of lost direct tax revenue, £3 is generated by job creation and innovation.
“There is a significant desire to startup and go it alone, which looks set to continue in 2021 and beyond as the desire to support small firms grows from the point of view of both consumers and investors,” said Luke Davis, CEO of IW Capital.
Discussing the cuts and reliefs that could benefit the UK economy with City A.M. today, Davis said: “This is also true of what we have seen, investing in a number of innovative growing businesses throughout the pandemic with the support of our investor base.”
“I believe that from what we have seen SMEs will become even more important to the UK economy, both domestically and internationally. There is a huge amount of talent and ambition in Britain’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and helping them go global should be high on the government’s agenda,” he added.
Extend tax reliefs on SME investments
The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) is one of the UK Government’s most successful initiatives in terms of driving investment into high-growth early-stage companies. It has helped produce some incredible business successes that otherwise may not have got off the ground due to the reluctance of banks to lend to these firms.
“Growing SMEs offer huge opportunities in terms of job creation and increasing the tax efficiencies of EIS is a certain way to increase investment into these firms, offering a part of the solution to economic problems,” Davis said.
When the EIS income tax relief was extended from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in 2011, the amount invested in small companies through the scheme saw a tremendous jump, he argued.
“If the Government were to extend the scope or tax efficiencies of the scheme again, it could really help catalyse private investment – a crucial source of growth finance.”
Future Fund and innovation grants
Extending the Future Fund to include EIS investments will open up the scheme to a whole new sector of investors and private capital, Davis said.
“From angel investors to VCTs. This is not an insignificant amount of money that could be a big boost to companies trying to survive or grow,” he noted.
Moreover, SMEs are famously more nimble and adaptable than big firms and some of the most successful private firms to come out of this arena have been at the cutting edge of innovation.
“This includes finance, science and engineering, and while loans are helpful, they can lead to a untenable debt burden on firms that need time to develop technology or software before going to market,” Davis concluded.