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04 June 2014

FSB Comment on the Queens Speech

Reference number: FSB PR 19/2014

FRACKING

Responding to the Government's proposed introduction of fracking to produce more sources of energy across the country, John Allan, FSB National Chairman said:"Finding alternative sources of energy is vital to keeping the lights on and our homes heated and we fully supportive a regulated and safety conscious shell gas extraction.  The use of so called fracking has a role to play so long as the safety of the local community and environment are taken into account."The cost of energy is becoming a make or break issue for many small firms and we believe the discovery of unconventional gas could help to keep prices down. However, investment in the UK''s energy infrastructure needs to go hand in hand with real reform of the retail energy markets to ensure small firms get a fair deal at the hands of the big six energy companies."

Richard Asghar-Sandys, Chairman for FSB Shropshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire, added:"Whilst the business community would welcome steps to make the UK more energy independent, and consequently acquire greater control over energy costs, it''s important to recognise that there are a number of alternatives to traditional fuel sources, some of which have seen significant investment and huge advances over the past decade or so.  I would also like to see businesses be able to more readily gain access to recycling opportunities, which are currently aimed at the domestic market."

PENSIONS

Responding to the Government''s pension bills announced in the Queen''s Speech today, John Allan, FSB National Chairman said:"The proposed legislation to allow staff to pay into collective pensions that are shared with other workers is a bold move.  We all have to save for our futures and pensions affect almost all of us, so any steps that can be taken to boost the retirement income of savers, without adding to the costs of employers, is certainly worth exploring. Let''s remember the focus for thousands of employers right now is making auto-enrolment work. Most small businesses are not pensions experts and will need extra help and guidance from Government and the Pensions Regulator, and the sooner they prepare for auto-enrolment the better."

Richard Asghar-Sandys, Chairman for FSB Shropshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire, added:"FSB statistics reveal that, on average, a small business employer will spend seven hours per week on paperwork, red tape and so on.  Any moves to introduce an additional administrative burden on the employer are not well timed as they continue to pedal like fury to keep their business in business and the UK economy on track for recovery."

PLASTIC BAGS

Responding to the Government''s proposed introduction of a 5p levy on plastic bag use in supermarkets next year, John Allan, FSB National Chairman said: "The Government''s proposal to introduce a 5p levy on plastic bags unveiled in the Queen''s Speech today is welcome, as long as the needs of independent shops and small and micro businesses are taken on board. We seek an exemption for our members from reporting requirements that could present a burden and will look at the proposal in detail when it is put before Parliament."

Richard Asghar-Sandys, Chairman for FSB Shropshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire, added:"This is a move that many European nations have already taken.  I would, however, like to see evidence of the environmental gains which have been made by the early adopters so that the UK may learn from what has gone before."

NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Responding to the Government''s announcement on the National Minimum Wage in the Queen''s Speech today, John Allan, FSB National Chairman said:"Today''s announcement in the Queen''s Speech to introduce new legislation to impose high penalties on employers who fail to pay the Minimum Wage will help to prevent workers being exploited and stop unscrupulous employers from illegally undercutting other small businesses.

 

"Our surveys show a majority FSB members pay above the Living Wage and three-quarters expect to increase wages further this year.  Bosses who knowingly break the law by failing to pay the Minimum Wage should not be allowed to get away with it – and it''s only right they are faced with tough legal action."The FSB is a supporter of the National Minimum Wage and continues to value the measure, provided the level set does not damage business competitiveness or job creation. Setting an appropriate minimum wage which helps to stem the fall in real wages without harming employment is crucial."

Richard Asghar-Sandys, Chairman for FSB Shropshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire, added:"Evidence suggests that the vast majority of small business owners know the law on National Minimum Wage and abide by it.  Having said that, I totally agree with the National Chairman that those who fail to pay at least the statutory wage should be brought deterred from doing so and fall in line with the rest of the UK''s employer sector."

ENDS