Whatever your business, the FSB will work for you.
Local Government and Communities
Local authorities can make a big difference to their local economies by supporting small firms to grow and create jobs. Local authorities are the part of the public sector which small firms have most contact with.
The FSB has re-launched it's Keep Trade Local campaign to highlight the important role that retailers play in the local economy and to keep people shopping there.
The Government is on the right track with the Heseltine response, says FSB - FSB News
Following on from our procurement survey last year, we have worked closely with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) to again survey local authorities UK-wide and find out more about how they procure goods.
The research shows that 58 per cent more of the money spent by local authorities with small firms is respent in the local economy compared to that spent with large businesses in the same area.
The findings highlighted how doing business locally is better value for money as small local firms generated £746 million more for the local economy compared to large local buinesses - even though more than £500 million less was spent with them.
Public sector contractsThe issue
Winning a public sector contract has been notoriously difficult for small firms due to red tape and cost barriers, making it difficult to compete fairly for contracts. We have welcomed reforms in central government to ensure
Read More small firms receive payment at the same time as prime suppliers. But our 'Voice of Small Businesses' survey shows significantly more FSB members do business with local councils, education institutions and the NHS, than those who supply to central government departments or agencies. For the Government to make a real difference it needs to not only get its own house in order, but to ensure that the whole public sector is adopting these changes.
What we have done
Due to our lobbying in England, the pre-qualification process has been reformed and a single free portal for all central government contract opportunities over £10,000 has been launched and is compulsory across all Government departments. The 'Contracts Finder' portal is now completely free for any small business to find Government contracts. Find out how it works in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We would like to see a clear policy set for the whole public sector to ensure 25 per cent of contracts go to small businesses - a Government aspiration. Government should re-think the current approach of grouping contracts with the default assumption that it will bring efficiency savings and require the wider public sector to adopt wherever possible. The standardised pre-qualification questionnaire and 'Contracts Finder' portal should be mandated across central government.
Business RatesThe issue
Business rates are the third biggest expense for many small businesses after rents and wages. It is the only tax not related to the ability to pay, so it places a disproportionate burden on small businesses.
What we have done
We have been instrumental in getting Small Business Rate Relief introduced and the level of relief that can be claimed doubled until at least 2013. Find out how it works for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Local authorities have a responsibility to help businesses by automatically identifying small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief. To help grow the economy, we are urging local authorities to promote the other forms of existing rate relief's available for small businesses and use their powers to award discounts to those businesses that need help.
Government should reconsider the move to re-introduce 100 per cent empty property rates relief on all properties, irrespective of size, at a time when many properties cannot be let and some small business property owners are struggling.
Local Enterprise PartnershipsThe issue
The importance of small businesses to local economies is unquestionable. For this very reason they need to be central to the priorities being set by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). The success of existing small
Read more businesses and new start-ups will be what fuels economic growth across local areas. LEPs that fail to recognise this will not succeed in leading successful economies. Find out how it works in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What we have done
We have successfully achieved representation on a number of LEPs across the country, with FSB members and staff taking part in numerous boards and groups, taking forward work to support small businesses in the LEP area.
There is room to improve the amount of recognition LEPs have on small business issues. The LEPs should take advantage of local business groups to understand the business constituencies they represent.
Businesses are telling us that the planning system is overly complex and costly and is a barrier for businesses wanting to grow. Research from our 'Voice of Small Business' survey panel show that just over half (53%) of
Read more small firms that have applied for planning permission over the past two years said that the rules and process were overly complex and 38 per cent said that the process had higher costs than anticipated. We are concerned that small businesses are put off from investing time and money into expanding because of drawn-out, complicated planning applications.
What we have done
We have lobbied for town centres to be protected by ensuring councils prioritise the protection of town centres and high streets by considering the impact of out of town developments. The National Planning Policy Framework contains a presumption in favour of town centre development. We have also influenced amendments to the Localism Act so that local business owners can have more say about planning in commercial areas through new neighbourhood forums.
We want to see Government and local authorities make the planning system clearer, easier and more affordable for small firms. A simple step such as changing planning applications for minor building works will mean small businesses can grow or diversify their business more easily.
Fraud and e-crime
The results of recent FSB Research show small firms lose up to £800 million a year as they fall victim to fraud and online crime.
The report shows that 42 per cent of our members have
Read more been a victim of cyber crime in the last 12 months and face on average costs of £4,000 per business. Around three in 10 members have been a victim of fraud, typically by a customer or client (13%) or through 'card present' fraud (10%).
To respond to this, the FSB has developed 10 Top Tips for small firms to make sure they stay safe online.