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 Make or break week for apprenticeships Apprenticeship news has dominated the week, with the Government announcing its proposals for apprenticeship funding off the back of a new FSB report on apprenticeship reform. In a key concession to FSB calls, Ministers have proposed that smaller firms with fewer than 50 employees which take on 16-18 year old apprentices will not be required to make any financial contribution towards the cost of training. Businesses which take on younger apprentices will also benefit from a cash incentive of £1000 per apprentice. Our research, ‘Make or Break: Getting apprenticeship reform right for small businesses’, shows how vital this concession will be with small firms critical to achieving the Government’s target of reaching three million new apprentices by 2020. The report found the small business sector in England has the potential to double the number of apprentices they take on to well over two million, if the Government can get the incentives and package of support right. This was covered by The Times, Sky News Radio, City AM, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, CNN and Jazz FM. Tell the Government how you feel about the proposals for apprenticeship funding by completing this survey before 5 September. Banking market shake-up FSB was quick to respond to the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) long-awaited announcement on changes to the retail banking sector. From the outset of the 21 month investigation, we called for a set of remedies that would empower small firms, and lead to increased switching and greater competition across the market. The CMA agreed with a number of FSB recommendations, including further support for small businesses affected by bank branch closures and standardising information and evidence needed to open a Business Current Account (BCA). We called for the changes to be swiftly put into action and we now want Ministers to look at further options to protect small businesses’ access to their local bank. This gained coverage in The Guardian, Daily Mail, BBC. Living Wage letter FSB was among business groups calling for National Living Wage targets to be pushed back, in a letter to Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark. We recommended the Low Pay Commission be given the power to reach their targets on a year-by-year basis, to better reflect the economic uncertainties the country faces over the coming years. This was covered by Financial Times, Mirror, City AM, LBC Radio. Tune in tonight for more coverage on BBC Radio 4. New Growth Champions announced On Thursday the Government announced that all Ministers in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will act as Local Growth Champions across the UK. Each will be tasked with building relationships with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in different regions, as part of the Government’s plans for the new Industrial Strategy. Find out who your minister will be here. Misleading online reviews The CMA has been investigating the use of online reviews and endorsements to ensure they’re being used in line with consumer protection law. It recently concluded an investigation into a retailer that ‘cherry-picked’ more favourable reviews for publication on its website and actively didn’t publish negative reviews. Read the CMA’s open letter and advice to retailers ensure you aren’t at risk of breaking the law by misleading consumers. Do you own a rural tourism business? The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee is holding an inquiry into issues affecting rural tourism businesses. This could include difficulties with planning and regulation, infrastructure, funding skills and access. Please contact Will Black if you would like to discuss issues affecting your rural tourism business. Business crime survey underway FSB is endorsing the 2016 Commercial Victimisation Survey, an annual survey about crimes experienced by businesses in England and Wales. Taking part in the survey is your opportunity to help the Home Office understand the nature, extent and cost of crimes against businesses and to tackle crime in this sector. If your business is randomly selected to take part, and interviewer from the independent research organisation Ipsos MORI will call you between August and November 2016 to conduct an interview over the phone. 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. You may also like 24 April 2018 Join us tomorrow for our Childcare Twitter chat 20 April 2018 Weekly Brief 16 - Friday 20 April 2018 20 April 2018 Why I’m encouraging more ex-forces personnel to consider starting up a business, by Mike Cherry 27 June 2017 Too many businesses are needlessly missing their auto-enrolment dates, and paying the price, says FSB’s Dave Stallon 07 April 2017 Four steps to keep on top of business rates 05 February 2016 Winners of FSB Worldpay Awards announced!