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Small businesses unimpressed by Government’s 2021 budget

Small businesses were often referenced by Rishi Sunak as one of the key benefiters of his new budget – but Southwark business owners seem lukewarm on last week’s budget announcement.

Two of the major new introductions announced in the budget were an increase in the national living wage to £9.50, and and a cut in half to business rates for the hospitality industry.

However, despite these seemingly significant changes, some business owners in Southwark feel that they will do little to offset the damage done to retailers by other policies, including LTNs and Brexit.

Michael Donovan, managing director of perfumery Roullier White in East Dulwich, was positive about the government’s intentions, saying: “In terms of taking business rates down, that’s obviously very much appreciated. But it was also far too high, and that should really have been tackled a while ago.

“My problem is not with the budget, it’s that Southwark Council will not open the road, and people cannot get to us. Central government is trying to do one thing and local government is trying to do another – and it’s no good.”

Michael also cited Brexit as a key problem for small businesses, and one that the new budget was not helping. He added: “The cost of transporting goods in and out of this country is deranged.

“A cocktail glass I was selling for £12 two months ago I’m selling for £20 now because getting it here costs that much.”

Roger Wilkinson, manager of the Au Ciel Patisserie in Calton Avenue, Dulwich Village, agreed Brexit was an overriding problem .

The raise to the national living wage, meanwhile, was praised by both business owners, who already pay their staff the same amount but welcomed the move to support employees.

Roger said:  “The budget is nothing too alarming, in the context of all the other damage they’ve done – so we’ll just have to see.”



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