Essex Businesses Face Another Tough Year

IAN WICKS, the Chairman of Essex Small Business Federation, said today that 2009 had been a tough year for businesses in Essex.

‘And it looks as if the start of 2010 will not be any easier – with VAT going up by 2.5 per cent from 1st January, and rateable values for business premises increasing by up to three-fold from April 2010,’ he said.

‘However, there is light on the horizon with the recession anticipated to end during 2010 and we want to see businesses ready to take advantage of that upturn when it comes. But that means they need to act now.’

Mr Wicks directed local businesses’ attention to the range of support services on offer.

‘Business Link’s free and confidential business health checks are a good place to start. The support available from local enterprise agencies is often free and is always confidential,’ he said.

‘Essex County Council is doing a lot to help businesses, including the Banking on Essex scheme, Essex Apprenticeship Scheme, and Essex Innovations.

‘Businesses need to look at their costs and see how they can be kept low to improve profitability. Get competitive quotes for insurance, trade waste collection, fuel for vehicles, credit and debit card processing – as there are deals available to be negotiated to reduce costs.’

But Councils and other public sector organisations also need to do their bit to help the local business community. Mr Wicks said, ‘by making sure that contracts are of a size which can be handled by a local business; that payments to local firms are made promptly; and that locally decided fees, such as car park charges, are kept as low as possible to encourage people to support their local businesses.

‘The General Election will have a major impact on businesses and, when the new Government is in place, it must make sure it rapidly introduces business friendly policies – avoiding the temptation of punitive taxes on businesses as they try to balance the books nationally.’

The FSB represents more than 213,000 business people across the United Kingdom and is the largest single organisation representing business interests in the country.

The Essex Region of the FSB represents small businesses in the areas covered by Essex County Council and the London Boroughs of Havering and Redbridge.

More information on the Essex Region of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) can be found at  www.fsb.org.uk/essex.

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