Research carried out by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) following the 2009 Budget suggests owners of smaller firms are losing faith in the government. In all, 97% of respondents to the organisation's post-Budget online survey believe nothing has been done to ease the burden of costs they face and 94% feel that the Budget did not address the issues threatening the survival of their businesses.
Fewer than 1% of business owners surveyed thought that the Budget was an effective response to the needs of their businesses. 68% of respondents said it would prove to be ‘ineffective' and a quarter that it would prove to be ‘harmful' to their businesses. Small firms were more positive about measures announced in the Pre-Budget Report than the Budget according to the FPB's most recent Referendum quarterly survey of members, which was conducted in March 2009. 6% of the business owners taking part said the Pre-Budget Report contained effective measures, 63% believed it was ineffective and 16% deemed it harmful to their businesses.
66% of businesses surveyed before the Budget announcement said that restoring business confidence should be prioritised. In addition, 64% felt the government should address plummeting consumer confidence. However, in the latest survey, 91% of small business owners felt that the Budget did not address these issues.
Ongoing research shows that small business finance is a major concern for the FPB's members because of issues such as credit restrictions, declining markets and increasing late payments. However, despite the revelation that a publicly-funded investment bank could be set up to boost lending to some small businesses, 84% of respondents in the post-Budget survey believe the issue not been adequately addressed.
"The 2009 Budget has received a big thumbs-down from the FPB's members," said Jane Bennett, the FPB's campaigns coordinator. "The results of our survey highlight the government's missed opportunity to support employers and prevent job losses. The Budget proposals we submitted to the chancellor in March would have supported staff on short-time working and prevented further redundancies. The scheme would be cost neutral if it prevented 2% of staff projected to be made redundant in 2009 from losing their jobs and therefore could be implemented at little cost to the Treasury."