New EU referendum research reveals small business vote could still be swayed Following the announcement of the date of UK’s referendum on EU membership, FSB asked 4000 members what information they still needed to decide how to vote. The poll revealed 42 per cent of the small business vote could still be swayed and over half the members questioned (52%) didn’t feel informed about the EU referendum. Topics that will influence small business voting intentions included governance (75%), free movement of people (70%) and the cost of EU membership (69%). Read more about the research online. If you’re interested in taking part in surveys like this, members can sign up for free to the Big Voice community. Coverage of the FSB’s research was gained on BBC Global, BBC News, Sky, Today programme, BBC 5 live and BBC online, Guardian, Telegraph and Forbes among others. Ofcom review big win for FSB Ofcom’s long awaited Strategic Review of Digital Communications was released this week. FSB welcomed the outlined initiatives, which echo FSB calls for an improvement in the quality of service across the whole telecoms industry and an increase in minimum broadband speeds. Ofcom also has plans to introduce automatic compensation for consumers and businesses when things go wrong and an escalating Universal Service Obligation set at 10Mbps. This gained coverage in the Sunday Times. FSB highlights flood blight risk FSB warned of the risks of flood blight this week, ahead of a ministerial roundtable held at DEFRA on Tuesday, 23 February. Rory Stewart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DEFRA earlier this month suggested some businesses should be discouraged from flood-risk zone. FSB used the opportunity to set out member concerns at this statement, suggesting local communities would be blighted by the risk of flooding. Instead, FSB calls for flood risks to be tackled head on by improving defences and flood insurance schemes. FSB National Conference and Expo just weeks away FSB’s annual conference is just three weeks away. We’re encouraging anybody that would still like to attend to register now as places are going quickly. Held in Glasgow, the event will be between 17 – 19 March at the SECC and is completely free. Consisting of networking opportunities, a huge range of seminars, workshops and keynote speakers, and exclusive offers from exhibitors – don’t miss out. Find out more on online. FSB takes auto-enrolment concerns to House of Commons Mike Cherry, FSB Policy Director, gave evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee on the automatic enrolment of pensions on Wednesday 24 February. Mike highlighted the concerns of FSB members and discussed the recent FSB survey results on the impact of automatic enrolment on small firms. Parliamentary update In a debate on the Draft Register for People with Significant Control this week, Small Business Minister Anna Soubry mentioned FSB’s lobbying work on deregulation. She said there has been progress in deregulation for small businesses, but there is still more to do. Bill Esterson, Shadow Small Business Minister raised FSB concerns about the relaxation of Sunday Trading laws during the Committee Stage of the Enterprise Bill. Call for Integrated Transport Plan The Transport Select Committee has released a new report today urging the Government to set out an integrated transport plan which connects airports across the country, boosting regional access and economic development. FSB fed into the report, saying an integrated transport strategy is a key priority for small businesses. Improving these connections will help small businesses to raise their productivity and to take fuller advantage of the opportunities offered by air travel. Guide available to help small businesses with Equality Law The Equality and Human Rights Commission are warning small businesses to make sure they’re now falling foul of equality legislation. The Commission has received complaints about discriminatory adverts for jobs and services and are calling on small firms to ensure they’re not breaching the law. A new series of guides and checklists is available to dispel and misunderstandings businesses have about their obligations. Take part in functional skills consultation The Education and Training Foundation want to hear your thoughts on reforming functional skills in Maths and English. Perhaps you think the current curriculum doesn’t have the right content or relevance to help the next generation of entrepreneurs? Find out more about the consultation or register your interest in taking part here. Digital tool aimed at hospitality and manufacturing industries The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills are launching a new online SME business support tool for businesses in the hospitality and manufacturing sectors. Called ‘How good’s your business really?’ the digital tool will assess your business across five key performance areas and shows you how you compare to your competitors. It also provides practical tips on improvement, information on industry trends and an assessment of how much extra profit you could be making by improving your performance. 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