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Issue:24/25 March 2010

Only one in five small firms concerned about the Budget, survey finds

BARELY a fifth of small business owners believe this week’s budget will have a significant impact on their firms, according to new research.

In a survey of its members, the Forum of Private Business found that only 22% are factoring the budget in their plans for 2010.

Even fewer small business owners believe the general election will have an effect on their plans, at just 19%.

The Forum’s quarterly Referendum ballot revealed that day-to-day concerns are much more likely to be at the forefront of business owners’ minds.

Sales and turnover emerged as the leading concern for small firms when planning for 2010, emerging as an issue for 77% of respondents. Meanwhile, 71% said they were planning for the year ahead by thinking about profitability and 69% by being concerned with cash flow.

Staffing was also high up the priority list, with employee levels being a concern for 60% of those surveyed.

Commenting on the results, the Forum’s research manager, Thomas Parry, said:- “I think there’s a certain amount of cynicism about this year’s Budget and this research reflects that. A lot of business owners are simply presuming that there’s going to be another budget straight after the election so they’re not paying it too much attention. The things they are concerned with at the moment are the more pressing issues associated with running a business in a struggling economy. While I think there has been a noticeable increase in confidence among small firms over the past 12 months, things like cash flow, employment law and business rates are still at the forefront of our members’ minds.”

Referendum also asked Forum members what state support schemes they wanted to see increased or retained in the near future.

HMRC’s Time to Pay tax deferral scheme emerged as the favourite, with an overwhelming 66% of respondents giving it their approval. The second favourite was 10-day payment by Government bodies, which 58% of respondents wanted to see either increased or retained.

“Most of the Government support schemes we listed drew a pretty apathetic response but Time to Pay proved hugely popular, as did 10-day payment by public bodies. This reinforces the theme of business owners knuckling down and concentrating on essential, day-to-day financial concerns in order to ensure their firms’ survival.”
said Mr Parry.

The Forum also quizzed its members on the forthcoming Equality Bill. An overwhelming 77% of members said their businesses were already well able to recruit the best employees regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, casting further doubt on the need for more workplace anti-discrimination legislation.

Additionally, less than half (49%) were sure they understood the existing equality and diversity laws and 13% knew a business owner who had encountered problems due to the legislation.

Mr Parry added:- “More than 50% of those surveyed feel as though they don’t understand the legislation they currently have to comply with, so it is imperative that the Equality Bill does not further complicate the obligations businesses face in this area.”


LIVERPOOL Coroners Office are now appealing for the next of kin of a man who died on Sunday, 21 March 2010. John Scanlan, 76, died at his home on Chirkdale Street, Liverpool. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. The Coroner's Office has been unable to trace Mr Scanlan's next of kin and is appealing for any relatives to come forward. He is believed to have relatives in Liverpool and Canada. Any next of kin, or anyone who has information about Mr Scanlan's next of kin, is asked to contact the office of H M Coroner on:- 0151 233 4703.


MERSEYSIDE Police are appealing for two taxi drivers who may have information about a man found seriously injured at the bottom of stairs at a premises in Bankfield Street in early hours Saturday, 19 March 2010, to come forward.

Officers from Merseyside believe that the victim, a 29 year old man, was taken to the premises known locally as The Dominion Hotel, in Kirkdale, some time after 10pm by a taxi driver. They may be able to help detectives who are trying to piece together events leading up the victim suffering serious head injuries.

The victim, who is from Northern Ireland, was part of a stag party visiting the city at the weekend. It is thought he went to the venue alone and was found injured, just after midnight by a second taxi driver. Detectives are yet to trace this taxi driver, who could also have vital information.

This victim was then taken to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in a third taxi, this taxi driver has already contacted police.

On 23 March 2010 Police Detective Chief Inspector Neil Cowdrey of St Anne Street CID, said:- "This man is still in a critical condition in hospital having suffered head injuries consistent with a fall. He is still unconscious in hospital and it is vital we speak to everyone he came into contact with on Friday night after he left his friends so that we can piece together what happened. At this stage we are still trying to understand the events of the night, so it is vital that we trace both the taxi driver who took him to the premises some time around 10pm, and the taxi driver who discovered the victim after midnight. They are both potentially important witnesses to what went on and it is vital they come forward so that we can establish how this man was hurt. He is in a very serious condition at Walton Neurological Hospital with his family at his bedside. His family have come over from Northern Ireland and are all incredibly upset at what has happened to him. We have traced the taxi driver who took him to the Royal but we still need the other two to come forward. They do not necessarily have to give their name. They can speak to us anonymously if need be, but it is vital to our investigation that they speak to us."

The victim is described as being white Irish, around 6ft 1 ins tall, of medium or muscular build, with short fair hair and a cleanly shaven face. He was wearing a grey t-shirt and long-sleeved sweater, with a distinctive blue t-shirt over the top with the words 'Stag 2010' written on the front.

Anyone with information should contact Liverpool North CID on:- 0151 777 4065 or leave information anonymously via Crimestoppers on:- 0800 555 111.

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