As 2013 draws to a close, we can look back on a year of mixed fortunes for UK SMEs.
In January, we reported on various initiatives such as an expansion of the Regional Growth Fund, as well as a £30 million boost to the government's Start-Up loans scheme for young entrepreneurs. Access to funding remains a hot topic, and we have seen alternative sources of funding billed as the 'new normal' as ambitious firms strive to gain access to the necessary resources required to grow.
However, with economic development high on the government agenda, there is no shortage of new schemes to offer support to small and medium-sized businesses, and to encourage long-term growth plans.
In its latest summary, the CBI reveals a number of positive outcomes for the SME community and what it means to UK businesses. The BCA has identified 4 key highlights, and advises flexible workspace operators and suppliers to watch out for these initiatives as we move into 2014:
1) Government Support for Growing Businesses
Straight from last week's Autumn Statement, which received a cautious welcome from the workspace sector, the CBI has identified a number of positive features. It counts a 2% cap of business rates relief as one of them, along with:
- An extension to the small business rate relief;
- A review into enhancing alternative sources of finance;
- The securitisation of SME loans as part of the Business Bank’s remit.
Read the CBI's full response to the Autumn Statement here.
2) Medium-Sized Businesses Play Central Role in Recovery
The latest research from the CBI shows that medium-sized businesses (MSBs) have contributed largely to the economic recovery. The CBI cites a rise of 7% in MSB revenues and 4% in employment, adding that these companies now generate 23% of private sector sales and employ 16% of the workforce. Despite this, they make up less than 2% of the business population. The CBI is campaigning for more support for medium-sized firms, so workspace operators within this bracket should keep an ear to the ground for initiatives that might aid their growth plans from next year.
3) Small Business Saturday Reaps Rewards
The first UK Small Business Saturday took place last weekend. Designed to celebrate and raise awareness of small firms, the event was largely hailed as a success. The CBI reports that various government measures coincided with the day, including a pledge to remove some of the barriers faced by small businesses, a commitment to support faster broadband, and action to address the crippling issue of late payments.
4) Better HMRC Services - Explained
Improvements to HMRC services are always welcome news, and an interactive guide is now available which explains the latest improvements and how small businesses can gain help and support. The CBI hails the guide as a useful source of information, especially with upcoming changes in 2014 that will see businesses using a digital tax account to manage their tax affairs.
Visit www.cbi.org.uk for more information and to stay up to speed with these developments.
All of these highlights have an impact upon flexible workspace operators. If they do not relate to you directly as a small or a medium-sized business, or indeed as a large or high-growth business, they will impact your clients. With 2014 fast approaching, it pays dividends to watch out for these trends. Keep an eye on the BCA channels for the latest announcements and developments as they become available.