Spring Statement and Brexit: supporting SMEs through turbulent times

The last week has been dramatic on many levels, with MPs voting (again) to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal, a Spring Statement from the Chancellor, and further MP votes on the manner of Britain’s exit from the EU.

It will take time for the dust to settle and the way ahead to become clear – but there have been some positive developments that can provide a measure of reassurance to business owners who are – quite rightly – craving certainty.

Firstly, the Spring Statement. Although this is now a relatively minor policy event, with the main Budget in the autumn, the Chancellor made one announcement that is great news for small businesses. Referring to the “scourge” of late payments, Mr Hammond said the government will require the audit committees of large businesses to review their payment practices and report on them in their annual accounts.

This is just the kind of public action and transparency that, we hope, may bring about meaningful change. At Ultimate Finance, we have long spoken out about the need for faster payment times to support small businesses. Quicker and more reliable payments are vital if SMEs are to manage their cashflow effectively and meet their own essential outgoings such as staff wages.

So, amidst all the current uncertainty, this is one piece of really significant good news.

There were other important measures in the Spring Statement too, especially for the construction industry and house builders. Apart from pledging extra funds to build more affordable homes, the Chancellor announced that fossil fuel heating systems will be banned in new builds from 2025.

But what of Brexit? MPs’ rejection of the Prime Minister’s deal for a second time last Tuesday evening has once again raised the stakes and increased the urgency for a political way forward to be found.

The good news is that a little more certainty was introduced into the equation when, on Wednesday evening, MPs voted to reject a no-deal Brexit. Although this vote is not legally binding, it does reduce the likelihood that Britain will end up leaving without a deal.

The final picture on Brexit remains unclear. MPs may now vote to delay our exit from the EU by a couple of months – although this is something the EU27 countries will have to unanimously accept. If our departure date is extended, our politicians will still need to agree a deal between themselves that is acceptable to the EU. Otherwise, we could end up back in a similar position to where we were at the start of this week.

Uncertainty is not a friend to business planning, but you can be assured that we remain committed to supporting businesses. Backing UK SMEs is what we are about; it's what we have built our own business on. Utilising the right flexible finance options can boost your cashflow, simplify your budgeting processes, and gives you the funds to take positive steps and plan for future growth.

These are turbulent times, but our mission to support SMEs is unchanged.

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