Businesses Cynical Over Autumn Statement
Britain's small businesses appeared to be given a boost in the Autumn Statement, but reaction has been more cynical than celebratory.
While many welcomed tax cuts on capital investments and the repeated promise of a new British Business Bank to improve lending, others said change wasn't happening quickly enough.
"The Chancellor has set aside £1bn for the new business investment bank, but he said that last time," said Sam Cook, president of the Entrepreneurs Organisation.
"Where is it? We want to get our hands on the £1bn."
His scepticism was echoed by the British Chambers of Commerce.
"We are disappointed that the Chancellor was unable to give a clearer timetable for the bank's creation," said BCC director-general John Longworth.
He added: "Ministers, as well as Business Bank supporters, must recognise the need for both urgency and scale when it comes to financing business growth."
Among the more positive announcements from George Osborne was the cutting of corporation tax to 21% from April 2014, which, as it stands, will make it the lowest rate of any major Western economy.
The other potentially important announcement was that the Annual Investment Allowance is to be increased tenfold for the next two years.
This means that where £25,000 of investment in items such as vans, tools and office equipment would have been eligible for 100% relief, company owners are now looking at £250,000 worth of investment, tax free.
Mr Osborne maintains this capital allowance will cover the total annual investment undertaken by 99% of all the business in Britain.
The scrapping of the intended 3p fuel duty increase has also been welcomed across the board as being hugely influential.
Over half of small businesses believe rising fuel prices are one of the main reasons for increased business costs. But according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the very fact that it was a surprise measure highlights the budgeting difficulties companies face.
The FSB's national chairman, John Walker, told Sky News: "Government needs to look at ways of raising revenue that gives road users greater certainty as to what their overheads will be from one Budget to the next."
But some feel the Chancellor could have done more to offer quick relief to small businesses, particularly those trying to get by on our high streets.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) was looking for a business rate freeze to be announced.
It was left disappointed. "Business rates rose dramatically in both 2011 and 2012, adding more than half a billion pounds to retailers' rates bills," the BRC pointed out.
"Shop vacancy numbers and retail employment are already being hit. The Chancellor should have removed the threat of a further 2.6% increase next April to avoid more empty shops."
The overall feeling is that there were certainly tit-bits to help small and medium sized businesses. And they would equate to quite a significant bonus if we were in a period of economic prosperity - but we're not.
As Scott Corfe, senior economist at the Centre of Economics and Business Research, put it: "While these measures are welcome, we don't think they will be sufficient to get UK economic growth above the 2% mark.
"In a post financial crisis economy, fortune favours the brave."
For embattled small businesses, this time, the Chancellor hasn't been brave enough.