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25 November 2016

Weekly Brief 47- Friday 25 November 2016

A wrap of the week’s small business news from FSB’s London Press, Policy and Public Affairs Office. To sign-up for Weekly Brief emails, please use this link

Autumn Statement modest and medium-term
On Wednesday, FSB responded quickly as Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled his first Autumn Statement. Key policy announcements affecting small businesses included: a reduction in business rates and fairer rural rate relief, increased investment in local roads, improved digital connectivity and a boost to R&D and export finance. The National Minimum Wage will rise more modestly than expected to £7.50, there will be an increase in insurance premium tax and changes to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme.

Our reaction to the speech gained extensive media coverage across the nation and regions including: Financial Times, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, BBC Online, BBC News Channel, Channel 5 News, The Times, Share Radio and The Guardian. You can also read Martin McTague’s blog, watch Mike Cherry’s video and see FSB’s full reaction.

Survey: labour and skills post-Brexit
It’s the last chance to have your say in our survey on the UK’s future access to skills and labour, post-Brexit. Whether you currently employ or have previously employed non-UK workers, or conduct projects or work in Europe, we want to hear from you. The findings will help us to influence Government to get the best deal possible for small businesses post-Brexit. You should have received an email from Martin McTague with a link directing you to the survey. For any queries, contact Claire.

Attempt to block business rates appeals
Along with seven other industry groups, FSB has condemned Treasury plans to block businesses from appealing against business rates up to a certain level. Under the ‘reasonable professional judgement’ provision, ratepayers may not be able to argue against a rates bill if its margin of error was inside 15 per cent. It’s estimated the move could cost small firms in England more than £700m in overpayments over the next five years. This story was covered by City AM, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Times and BBC.

Fresh evidence on quarterly tax reporting burden
A PwC report commissioned by FSB suggests Government plans for Making Tax Digital (MTD) should be delayed, with small businesses exempted from the proposals. The report shows MTD is likely to increase the administrative burden and costs for small firms. FSB estimated last month that the policy will cost the average small company an extra £2,770 a year on top of their existing tax administration burden. This was reported in The Times this week. The report will be officially launched in Parliament at a roundtable event hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Taxation Group on Tuesday 29 November.

Parliamentary Update
During a speech at the CBI Annual Conference on Monday, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn referenced that Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, Debbie Abrahams, is currently working with FSB “to look at what can be done to support the growing army of self-employed people whose earnings are no higher today than in the mid-1990s”.

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, mentioned the Government’s work with FSB “on opportunities for work experience, traineeships and apprenticeships” during a House of Commons debate on Education and Social Mobility on Tuesday.

During a House of Lords debate on Rural Bus Services on Thursday Lord Polak (Cons) quoted FSB’s Going the Extra Mile report when calling for enhanced transport connectivity and expanding the community bus fund for rural areas.

Have you been covered by Gable Insurance?
Gable Insurance has gone into liquidation. This company underwrote insurance for thousands of UK small businesses. The Financial Conduct Authority has issued an alert to say the insurance will be voided by the liquidator on December 16. Small businesses covered by Gable Insurance should contact their broker now to get advice and arrange replacement cover.

Webinars – how to cut risk from Minimum Wage rises
HMRC is running a series of webinars for employers on how to reduce the risk of failing to comply with National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage legislation. Webinars are taking place on the 30th November, 1-2pm and the 6th December, 11am-12noon. You can register to attend the November session by clicking on this link and the December session by clicking here.

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