Chancellor misses a £94bn opportunity in Budget

Anthony Impey, dressed in a blue suit and a blue check shirt, speaks to a man in a pinstripe suit who is turned away from the camera
Date: 6 March 2024

London, 6 March 2024: Responding to the Spring Budget, Anthony Impey MBE, CEO of Be the Business, an independent charity that is the UK’s leading expert on small business productivity, said:

"It’s widely accepted that today’s Budget will be one of the last fiscal events before the general election. While it was encouraging to see the Chancellor announce plans to tackle public sector productivity, it was disappointing that private sector productivity is still missing from the top of the political agenda. 

“With UK productivity lagging so significantly behind our G7 counterparts, stimulating demand for productivity-enhancing measures among the 5.5 million SMEs that make up 99.9% of the UK business population has never been more crucial. In fact, if every micro, small and medium business were able to maintain a 1% improvement in productivity over a five-year period, this would add £94 billion to the UK economy annually.

“It is perhaps because of the government’s lack of focus on SMEs that our research has identified that business leaders, who may have traditionally favoured the Conservatives, no longer consider the Chancellor’s party to the be self-styled party of business.

“The latest Productive Business Index (PBI) by Be the Business, launching later this month, has identified there is now no clear ‘business party’ in the UK with SME business leaders split 50/50 between those who would vote for the Conservative Party (32%) or the Labour Party (32%) at the next general election, with a quarter (25%) of respondents saying that the result will make no difference to their business. 

“At the general election later this year, there is a huge opportunity for political parties to show their support for SMEs and the wider business community. Our research indicates that almost half (46%) of SME leaders want business tax cuts, while 22% want grants to invest in specific programmes or new technology. 

“We know that productivity is the single biggest determinant of living standards. The UK’s flatlined productivity has enormous implications for all of us. Whichever political party is in power next year, it will need to address the UK’s lagging productivity to deliver sustainable economic growth for all.”

ENDS

Notes to editor

About Be the Business

Be the Business is an independent charity that inspires greater productivity, by connecting leadership teams to the curated expertise needed to answer today’s challenges. By combining peer-to-peer networks, the employee expertise found within pioneering corporate partners, independent business experts and our research and insights, we inspire leadership teams to create and deliver sustainable business change. Collectively we’re transforming the UK’s productivity, raising the value of businesses in our communities, safeguarding jobs and improving standards of living.