SCOTTISH entrepreneurs Lord Willie Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter have said that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement last week has done nothing to give small businesses hope.

Labour peer Lord Haughey, owner of City Facilities Management Holdings, speaking on the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey, said: “I am bitterly disappointed with this Budget.

“As bad as Liz Truss’s min-Budget was, there were some indicators that it was a mini-Budget for growth. They [Mr Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak] are making it absolutely clear that there is no room for growth.”

Accepting there were some “positives” in the Autumn Statement for the public with, for example, the state pension going up 10 per cent from next April, Sir Tom said: “The business help is not clear.

“My advice is to worry about the things you can control. Bring your team together, let them understand how the business operates, what are the challenges, what are the opportunities? Listen to them, get on top of your cash flow and find another entrepreneur or business mentor for peer-to-peer support.

Agreeing with Sir Tom that business owners should “find a friendly ear”, Lord Haughey added: There are going to be a lot of bumps on the road over the next 18 months. Find someone you can run things past, find out from them what is happening in their world because you are not the only with a huge energy bill.”

Lord Haughey said he knew of a pub/restaurant business whose energy bill had shot up from £30,000 per annum to £122,000. “I am really concerned that this Budget does nothing for business,” he added.

Both entrepreneurs agreed that Brexit had also contributed to many of the challenges currently facing businesses. “The pandemic has masked the problems created by Brexit,” Lord Haughey noted.

“The people whose businesses have been affected don’t have a voice at the moment because everyone wants to blame the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.”

They also agreed that the Chancellor’s belief that inflation will come down to 7% is unrealistic.