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Start-up help needed to deal with credit and rates issues.

CASE STUDY: SMALL BUSINESS The Government could have done more to help small businesses in this year's Budget, according to a Midlands restauranteur.

Alfonso Yufera-Ruiz has recently opened tapas bar Casa Ruiz in Bridgnorth, after a 20-year career in the restaurant business.

The 37-year-old, who has previously worked as assistant restaurant manager at the Michelin-starred Simpsons in Edgbaston and restaurant manager of acclaimed Cambridge restaurant Alimentum, has spent the last eight months building up his business after taking on the leasehold for premises in Bridgnorth's High Street..

The move from fine dining to the more relaxed surroundings of a tapas bar has been successful, but Alfonso said more Government support was needed to help small businesses like his to get off the ground during the recession.

"Five years ago you could get a business loan almost straight away, but now entrepreneurs are having to get the money by doing things like re-mortgaging their property," he said.

Alfonso has spent around pounds 25,000 setting up Casa Ruiz, and he thinks the Budget should have addressed the problems faced by smaller businesses when obtaining credit.

"Because I am a new entrepreneur without a credit record I have to pay all my suppliers in advance," he added..

"Something should have been done to help. Another problems is that a lot of new businesses cannot afford to take on premises in city centre locations because the business rates are too high." Alfonso, who lives in Erdington, also said the two per cent increase in alcohol duties will have an affect the day-to-day running of his business.

"Once you could buy beer from suppliers at around 70p per bottle and now it's around 93p," he said. "It doesn't seem like much but it does add up if you are a small business and no-one wants to have to increase their prices." But Alfonso remains optimistic for the future and hopes to break even or into profit by the end of the year, after a strong start with his restaurant..

Alfonso's belief that more could have been done to help small businesses has also been echoed by the Forum of Private Business.

Chief executive Phil Orford said Alistair Darling has missed a "vital opportunity" to produce a Budget for business survival and economic growth.

He said: "Although the long-term unemployed will benefit from investment in job creation and training from 2010, nothing has been done to help businesses retain their existing skilled workforce, which continues to be decimated as a result of the recession.

"While welcoming changes to capital allowances and loss relief, the reality is that these will have only provide limited benefit to smaller businesses."


Alfonso Yufera-Ruiz
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 23, 2009
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