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On 22nd November the Autumn Budget will be announced, and Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of over 900 UK-based SMEs, has revealed the main ambitions of UK CFOs and financial directors for the second Budget of the year.

Reduced business property rates are a key hope with over half stating this to be the most important potential outcome from this government statement. This saving would potentially free up vital liquidity fuelling both SME and overall economic growth. 

The second greatest ambition for those polled is tackling the current industry skills shortage, with 38.5% of CFO/financial directors hoping for a formal announcement of plans to do so. 

These results go hand in hand; reducing business rates, and therefore increasing useable capital, could provide the much-needed funds to introduce new skills to company employees. This previously earmarked cash could also allow firms to offer apprenticeships, train current staff, or seek out strategic new hires to achieve sustainable enterprise progression.

One of the least popular options was the introduction of a digital tax return process, with just 7.7% hoping for news on this. The response points towards a reluctance towards the Making Tax Digital system which will be implemented in 2020. Although draft rules have recently been released, the announcement of moving returns online has proved controversial for SMEs. However, forward thinking and preparation can help for a smooth transition if updates to these proposals are announced.

Whether a reduction of business rates is addressed by the Autumn Budget or not, there are other options available to unlock cash within a company to keep trade moving forward and achieve key aspirations, such as upskilling staff or preparing for new legislation.

Freeing up cash with invoice finance is a simple and manageable way to increase working capital without relying on the outcomes of the Autumn Budget or funding from traditional bank loans or overdrafts. Invoice finance offers the ability to release up to 90% of the value of your unpaid invoices, so you can access cash without waiting to be paid by your customers. This can regulate your cash flow and offers predictable funds to reinvest in the business.

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