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Support for small businesses in chancellor's autumn statement

Small businesses were singled out for support in the autumn statement, with new measures aimed at helping them take on more apprentices and generate investment.

The chancellor said that two major British Business Bank schemes would unlock up to £1 billion of finance for smaller businesses.

The British Business Bank was created by the Business Secretary Vince Cable last year to change the structure of financial markets for the benefit of smaller businesses.

'Now that credit conditions for households and large businesses have improved,' he said, 'it is right that we focus the scheme's firepower on small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our economy.'

The Funding for Lending scheme, which encourages banks to lend to smaller firms by cutting the cost of borrowing, will also be extended for another year.

Help for apprentices and cuts to business rates

Employers will not have to pay National Insurance contributions for all but the highest earning apprentices aged under 25 from April 2016, it was announced. Last year the same provision was made for apprentices aged under 21 from April 2015.

'When a business is giving a young person a chance in life, we're going to support them not tax them,' Mr Osborne said.

And in a move to update 'outmoded, clunky and regressive' business rates, the 'high street discount' was put up from £1,000 to £1,500 for 300,000 small businesses, while the rate relief was doubled for many more. This means that 380,000 of the smallest firms won't have to pay any rates at all, according to official figures.

Furthermore, the annual increase in business rates will be capped at 2 per cent in the next financial year, and transitional arrangements for smaller properties will be extended to help smaller properties that could face large bills following the end of 'transitional rate relief'.

Acas publications and services

Acas has Help for small firms, including seven step-by-step guides with clear advice on how to get the best out of your employees while following your obligations as an employer.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and give you bespoke support to help you overcome the challenges you and your employees face. Contact the customer services team on 0300 123 1150 for more information about Acas Workshops, projects and business solutions.

Acas training is ideal for small firms, covering essential areas such as Recruitment, People management, Performance management and Employing People - A Practical Introduction, with everything you need to know about the fundamentals of being an employer.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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