The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has stated that the upcoming Autumn Statement will be a ‘watershed moment’ for the government in regard to it proving its small business support credentials. Research carried out by the FSB revealed that confidence levels are ‘drastically different’ between sectors – smaller businesses in retail and hospitality are more pessimistic, whilst firms in professional, scientific and technical industries are more optimistic. The FSB said that the government can help small firms by tackling late payments; lightening the burden of business rates; and raising the Small Business Rate Relief threshold from £12,000 to £25,000. ‘It is disheartening to see a fall in the three main sectors of services, construction and production, with the fall in services especially eye-catching due to the dominance of the service sector in the UK economy,’ said Martin McTague, National Chair of the FSB. ‘The steady increase in interest rates has tightened the screw for many small firms, with many reporting consumer spending contracting as a result, and with firms carrying index-linked debts seeing their repayments rise and rise, hitting their margins.’ Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver the 2023 Autumn Statement on 22 November.