Whatever your business, the FSB will work for you.
Trade and Industry
Ensuring a fair market place for small businesses is at the heart of the Trade and Industry work at the FSB. We work hard to ensure the view of small businesses are heard by policymakers.
Intellectual PropertyThe issue
Small firms find it difficult to access courts on lower valued intellectual property (IP) claims. Our research shows that nine per cent of small businesses have been a victim of IP theft on more than one occasion, with nearly
Read More a third (29%) saying they are unable to resolve the matter as the process was too complicated and expensive.
What we have done
Further to our lobbying, the Government is promising to introduce a small claims track to the Patents County Court. This will make it easier for small businesses to protect their work and make claims through the courts on any theft.
The small claims track in the County Courts resolves disputes for claims less than £10,000, recently raised from £5,000 by the Ministry of Justice. We believe that the small claims track, including the IP small claims track, should apply to cases of a value up to £15,000 and there is potential for this to happen in the future.
Despite consuming a similar amount of energy to domestic households, small businesses have a tough time in the energy markets due to their limited purchasing power and expertise. We have long had
Read More concerns about the transparency and fairness of contract terms, the standards of direct sales activity and the role of intermediaries. There is evidence that many small business consumers are unaware of their contract terms governing change of supplier and contract roll-over and that this is being used by suppliers to lock in small businesses.
What we have done
Through our campaigning on unfair energy contract terms for small businesses, OFGEM, the energy regulator, conducted an energy supply probe in 2009 which looked at how small businesses were often the subject of unfair practices. We were heavily involved in working with OFGEM and raised our concerns regarding the transparency and fairness of contract terms, the use of objections and standards of direct sales activity along with the role of intermediaries.
We want to see clearer and more transparent contract terms that allows small businesses to easily compare energy prices from different companies as well as switch provider with ease.
We have been calling for a fairer deal for tied pubs for years. Tenants and lessees of the pubs have long paid inflated prices for beer and excessive rents imposed on them by the Pub Companies that own them. Since 2004,
Read more Parliamentary Committees have regularly expressed concerns over these industry practices.
The Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee has advised for reform of the Pubco model to create a level playing field for tenants and lessees. We welcomed the passing of a motion in Parliament stating that only a statutary code of practice, which includes a free-of-tie option with an open market rent review and that an independent adjudicator would resolve the contractual problems between Pubcos and their lessees. It also called on the Government to commission a review of self-regulation of the pub industry in autumn 2012.
What we have done
We are a key player in the debate on unfair practice Pubcos have a tenanted pubs. As a result of our lobbying, the current Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee has been closely monitoring the industry since 2004.
With 84 per cent of businesses claiming that their Pubco does not allow them to compete effectively and nine in 10 saying they cannot make a fair profit, the FSB is calling on the Government to stick to its promise of intervening if little progress is made since the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee's 2010 report and put in place the findings of the report.
Post Office and Royal MailThe issue
Small businesses are dependent on Royal Mail and the Post Office. Both organisations are going through substantial change, impacting small firms significantly. We are concerned that Royal Mail's price increases and
Read more change in services will leave small businesses without an affordable system to use.
What we have done
The FSB regularly raises concerns over changes in the postal market with the regulator, Royal Mail, the Post Office, Ministers and Parliamentarians.
We are concerned that the Government's vision to secure the Post Office network will not provide the revenue needed to sustain a fully functioning network long term. The FSB is a member of the Post Bank Coalition which collectively represents employees, managers, postmasters and small firms. The coalition has been calling for a Post Bank to be established and run through the Post Office network.
Collecting SocietiesThe issue
Collecting societies licence the copyright for their members, the copywright owners. There are around 15 collecting societies in the UK, each licensing rights for different sectors and copyright owners. Small
businesses often come into contact with collecting societies, either as members or as licensees. We acknowledge the support that collecting societies can give their members, however we are concerned
about the behaviour of collecting societies towards small businesses. What we have done
Thanks to our lobbying, the Government has proposed that collecting societies self-regulate by adopting codes of conduct that incorporate minimum standards set by the Government. The Government will also introduce laws to give it power to enforce statutory codes of conduct for collecting societies that fail to do this effectively. Solutions
We lead a working group of collecting societies and their licensees to address what the minimum standards must incorporate. These standards must be robust and be overseen by a strong ombudsman. The revision of collecting society codes must have a small business focus. Hide
regulates the electricity and gas markets in Great Britain. PPL
collects and distributes licence fees for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies nad performers. PRS
for Music collects and distributes for the use of musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of the songwriters, composers and publishers Business Issues Home