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11 August 2017

Weekly Brief 33 – Friday 11 August 2017

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

More conversation needed to prepare for data protection changes 
This week, the government committed to a new Data Protection Bill, giving people greater control over their personal data. Responding to the announcement, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman Mike Cherry said there is a risk of companies inadvertently facing fines as they aren’t aware of what they need to do before the new GDPR rules come into play in May 2018. He added: “We need to see a commitment from the Government and the Information Commissioner’s Office to provide support and guidance for the 5.5 million-strong small business community in good time.”

Small retailer confidence down
The Bank of England’s Agents’ Summary reported new figures on Wednesday signalling consumer spending was down, with a combination of inflationary pressure, business rates hikes and an increase in the National Living Wage leaving thousands feeling the squeeze. Mike Cherry warned that as operating costs are at their highest in four years many business owners were paying themselves less and increasing prices, leading to reduced spending power. “This Government needs to carefully consider its inaugural Budget. Hikes to stealth taxes, such as fuel duty and insurance premium tax, will place further burdens on our embattled small business owners,” he said.

Have you received the right business rates bill?
Earlier this year the Government announced a £435 million business rates relief package to help small firms in England hardest hit by April’s revaluation. Its implementation has been beset by delays, and a 21 August deadline has now been set for fixing IT issues linked to the holdups. If you feel your business rates should be revised in light of the relief measures but you haven’t received an updated bill, we want to hear from you. A breakdown of measures can be found on page 3 of our rates guide. Please contact Matt Dickinson if you’ve been affected.

Skills Commission inquiry launches
The Skills Commission is launching an inquiry examining the impact of recent apprenticeship reforms on the opportunities available to disadvantaged young people aged 16-24. This inquiry will be co-chaired by Labour MP Lilian Greenwood and Conservative MP Michelle Donelan. The Commission is keen to gather evidence from a diverse range of key sector stakeholders, particularly small employers. If you would like to submit evidence, please view the call to evidence. If you have any questions about the inquiry contact Beth Wheaton.

Have your say on skills and training
Our latest survey on skills and training will be in the field next week. We want to know what skills, qualifications and experience your business needs now and in the future. Your views will help us influence government to ensure small businesses get their voice heard. The survey is for all FSB members based in England. It should take 8-10 minutes to complete. Check your inbox on Monday to take part!

Join Big Voice and get your business heard
Big Voice is FSB's unique, online research community and it's free for members to join. By commenting or responding to one of FSB's surveys, members give us the evidence we need to take to politicians at all levels, across the UK and in Brussels on the topics that really matter to them. Join for free and start making sure your voice is heard.