The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to use the upcoming Spring Statement to 'help small firms'.
According to the FSB's latest Small Business Index (SBI), confidence amongst small firms 'remained negative' in the first quarter of 2019, at -5.0. This represents the third consecutive negative reading. Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, stated that the SBI reading 'must serve as a wake-up call for the Treasury'.
The business group has called for the government to use the Spring Statement to help reverse the slump in business optimism.
Mr Cherry commented: 'Even in the wake of the crash, when the economy was well and truly on the ropes, we didn't see negativity take hold like it has now.
'Small firms still have no idea what regulatory framework they'll be working to in three-and-a-half weeks' time. Not only does the political stalemate surrounding Brexit make it impossible to plan, it has also distracted from the domestic policy agenda. Next week is the Chancellor's chance to change this.'
The FSB is urging the Chancellor to tackle the UK's 'late payment crisis', and to commit to a one-year 'safe harbour' approach to Making Tax Digital (MTD) fines. The initiative will come into effect from 1 April 2019.
The Chancellor is set to deliver the Spring Statement on Wednesday 13 March.