Jeremy Hunt urged to quit as small businesses ‘implode’

Jeremy Hunt has been urged to quit and let someone else take the reins as Chancellor with small businesses “imploding” amid fears of recession.

This week saw more bad economic news as it emerged Britain’s services sector saw a lacklustre October with activity falling for the third month in a row and UK factory production suffering the longest period of decline since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Analysts warn Britain’s economy is skirting with recession amid stubborn inflation, higher interest rates and a cost-of-living crisis. The Bank of England expects GDP growth to flatline for four consecutive quarters from March next year.

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) has warned small businesses “feel as if they are walking on a financial tightrope”.

Asked what Mr Hunt can do to restore confidence, gift shop owner Jenny Blyth said: “Quit. Seriously, quit. There is absolutely nothing the Chancellor could do that would give me confidence the economy under his leadership could survive let alone thrive.”

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Ms Blyth, owner of London based Storm in a Teacup Gifts, told “The small business world is imploding and instead of innovative ways of bringing back the high street and driving economy to the local areas we are literally collapsing under the weight of his lack of skill and ingenuity. Quit and be done, and let someone else take the reins.”

FSB National Chair Martin McTague said strong, targeted measures to ensure small businesses “survive, thrive, and prosper” are needed now.

He called on the Chancellor to draw a “hard line” on late payments, extend the SME-focussed 75 percent business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure beyond March 2024 and address a “bottleneck” in how HMRC taxes the self-employed over training.

Mr McTague told “While our latest research shows small business confidence improved a little in the three months to September, it remains in negative territory – with more small firms pessimistic about the coming months than optimistic.

“The UK’s economic recovery is dependent on the country’s 5.6 million small businesses and the 16 million jobs they provide, which is why it makes economic and political sense for the Chancellor to back them in his Autumn Statement.”

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This week also saw Nationwide Building Society reveal property values across the country fell by 3.3 percent compared with October last year.

The high street lender’s chief economist, Robert Gardner, warned activity and house prices are likely to remain subdued in the coming quarters.

Stephen Perkins, Managing Director at Yellow Brick Mortgages in Norwich, said the Chancellor needs to do something to reawaken the UK’s housing market.

He told “There needs to be some new initiatives to kick start the housing market out of its current slumber.”

Mr Perkins said this could involve something similar to the Help to Buy equity share scheme applied to new builds being made available to a lesser extent on all homes under a certain threshold.

He added: “Sadly, Jeremy Hunt will not be filling anyone with confidence.”

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But small business author, John Lamerton, said the best thing Mr Hunt can do for the UK economy is to hold his nerve.

He said: “Businesses must be allowed to fail. Too many UK firms have grown complacent over the past 15 years, getting hooked on cheap money and a growing sense of affluence in consumers, which has largely been paid for on credit.

“As small business owners, no one is coming to save us. If we’re to survive, and create a robust UK economy that will outlast the current incumbent of No. 11, it’s up to us to adapt to the situation as it is, not how we wish it was.”

Amid the economic gloom, the Chancellor has stressed Britain’s resilience compared to other G7 countries, such as France and Germany, with the UK growing faster than its European rivals post-pandemic.

Mr Hunt said on Thursday (November 2): “Inflation is falling, wages are rising and the economy is growing.

“The UK has been far more resilient than many expected, but the best way to deliver prosperity is through sustainable growth.

“The Autumn Statement will set out how we will boost economic growth by unlocking private investment, getting more Brits back to work, and delivering a more productive British state.”

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