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24 March 2016

Weekly Brief 12 - Thursday 24 March 2016

Average business crime costs hit nearly £6000
FSB released new statistics on business crime and its effect on small firms this week. The findings show that a third of FSB members believe crime is increasing in their area, yet a quarter are not reporting incidents to the police because they do not think it will result in anything being done. With Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections due to be held on Thursday 5 May, we're encouraging businesses to lobby PCC candidates to put combating business crime at the heart of their plans. FSB's manifesto 'Tackling business crime' is available online. For more information about how you can lobby your local PCC candidate, email your Development Manager.

New FSB leaders announced
Following last weekend's Annual General Meeting, FSB announced several newly elected positions. Former Policy Director Mike Cherry will now take up the National Chairman mantle, while Martin McTague takes over as Policy Director. Dave Stallon was voted in as Commercial Director following his term as Operations Director and Veronica Weisweller joined the Non-Operational Directors. More information about FSB directors is available online.

FSB's maternity leave insurance calls heard
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a new report this week that shows three quarters of pregnant women and new mothers experience negative and potentially discriminatory treatment at work each year. The EHRC put forward a recommendation that FSB had previously championed centring on lowering costs for small firms by providing insurance to enable higher maternity and paternity pay for staff.

FSB reacts to steady inflation figures

FSB was pleased to see the Consumer Price Index remained steady this week at 0.3%. With small business confidence at its lowest level since 2013, FSB said it was right to keep business operating costs low through an ongoing period of low inflation.

Watch National Conference all over again
In case you missed our National Conference last week, or if you enjoyed it so much you want to watch it again, many of the keynote speeches are now online. The playlist includes Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson, jam entrepreneur Fraser Doherty and FSB Diversity Chair Helen Walbey among many others. There is also a storify online to show the engagement and coverage on social media.

Parliamentary update
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry gave evidence to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee on business rates. Mike said he was pleased with the announcement on small businesses in the Budget, but there were still issues around localisation and the appeals process.

FSB's Neil Sharpley spoke at a joint meeting of the APPGs for Small Business and Intellectual Property at which Peter Wishart (SNP, Perth and North Perthshire) praised the FSB's lobbying efforts.

In an evidence session with the BIS Committee, Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey, said 'the Government would work with [FSB] to help small businesses get online'.

Stephen Hammond (Con, Wimbledon) mentioned FSB's positive response to the Budget.

Can you spare 10 minutes of your time to take part in FSB's Export Survey?
All FSB members should have received an email from FSB's Policy Director, Martin McTague, asking for their help to take part in our Big Voice Export Survey. The survey only takes around 10 minutes and your views will be used to help us advocate better policies and support for small businesses to export. The deadline for the survey is Friday 8 April. If you have not received an email please contact our survey helpdesk.

Members invited to 'Big Data' event
FSB is supporting techUK with a series of events looking at how small businesses can benefit from using 'Big Data' and data analytic tools. This event will take place in London on Tuesday 12 April, 08.30 - 13.30. FSB members are invited to attend, free of charge, to explore how using such technologies can help their businesses gain a competitive advantage. To register or for more information, visit the website.

HMRC to offer 2 step verification
HMRC are starting to offer more Self Assessment customers "2 Step Verification" when logging into their tax account from Tuesday 29 March. This means customers will be able to link their mobile phone with their log-in details and help protect their account against fraud. This is optional, to take up the offer, simply look out for the option when you log in to your tax account and follow the on-screen steps, with a mobile phone to hand.

Have you registered all people with significant control?
From the 6 April 2016 most companies, Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) and Societas Europaea will be required to hold a register of people with significant control (PSC). The register cannot be blank. These requirements introduce new legal duties and those failing to comply could be committing a criminal offence and could be fined and/or imprisoned. A PSC is anyone in a company, LLP or SE who meets certain criteria. There is guidance available online.

Defined Benefit Pensions
Does your business have a Defined Benefit (DB) pension scheme? The Department for Work and Pensions is interested in talking to small employers who sponsor DB schemes (open or closed). If you would like to take part, please contact Anna Smith-Spark.

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. This evidence is used to support FSB lobbying and help shape the laws affecting small businesses. Join for free and start making sure your voice is heard.

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