26 Sep 2023Small firms will look to the upcoming Autumn Statement for signs that the government understands their operating concerns, says the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The business group said that UK businesses 'urgently need action' to help stem late payments, which it says are utilised by large corporates to offset interest rate rises by 'demanding free credit from their supply chains'. The FSB is also urging Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to overhaul the business rates system and has called for an extension of the 75% business rates discount for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, as this discount is set to expire in April 2024. It said that these sectors have been 'acutely affected' by falling confidence levels and economic headwinds. Martin McTague, National Chair of the FSB, said that the recent decision by the Bank of England not to raise interest rates will 'give firms breathing space'. He said: '[The] unexpectedly large drop in GDP is a sign that the painful interest rate rises we have endured are acting as predicted, and we urge the Bank to allow time for the lag between rate hikes and the full effect on spending to be fully observed, so that there is less risk of overshooting and causing unnecessary economic damage.'