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18 November 2016

Weekly Brief 46 – Friday 18 November 2016

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

Stop late payments, save 50,000 small businesses
FSB released a new report this week, shining a light on the UK’s poor payments culture, which costs the UK economy £2.5bn each year and kills 50,000 small firms. Our report, ‘Time to Act: The economic impact of poor payment practice’ found that existing policy interventions have had no discernible effect on tackling late payment problems in the last five years. Read our Press Release, FSB Policy Director Martin McTague’s blog, and coverage in The Times, The Mirror, BBC News Channel, Jazz FM and Share Radio.

Self-employment rises again
The latest UK jobs figures show the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in 11 years. Self-employment has continued to increase, now totally 15.1 per cent of all those in work. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “More people in work is testament to the hard work of small businesses. If progress is to continue, the Government must use the Autumn Statement to support small firms and the self-employed.” This was covered by The Guardian and BBC.

New online exporting hub

This week Great.gov.uk was launched - a new online platform to make it easier for small firms to export more, and, crucially, to enable overseas buyers to identify potential UK suppliers. The new platform includes advice for new and existing suppliers, the ability to build a buyer profile to showcase your goods/services, and potential to find new export opportunities. Earlier this year, FSB published ‘Destination Export’. One of our key recommendations to the Department for International Trade was to build an online marketing platform for exporters, so we welcome this launch.

Women in Business Facebook Live Chat
To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, FSB held a successful Facebook Live event with four inspirational business women from the North-East of England. It covered topics such as access to finance, work life balance and confidence building – all raised in our recent Women in Enterprise report. Catch up on the chat and contribute to the discussion on our Facebook page.

Survey: Access to labour and skills post-Brexit
FSB needs your views in our latest survey looking at the UK’s future access to skills and labour, post-Brexit  Whether you currently employ or have previously employed non-UK workers, or conduct projects or work in Europe, we want to hear from you. The findings will help us to influence Government to get the best deal possible for small businesses post-Brexit. Please look out for an email from Martin McTague with a link directing you to the survey. For any queries, contact Claire.

Parliamentary Update
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Debbie Abrahams gave a speech on self-employed workers on Monday, where she thanked FSB for ‘help and support for the Labour Party 's commission on self-employment’ and that she was looking forward ‘to using the FSB’s expertise to help develop Labour’s policies to support self-employed workers.

During an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee meeting on Rural Tourism on Wednesday, the Committee cited FSB evidence that suggested ‘the marketing of English tourism was rather piecemeal.’

During Thursday’s House of Commons debate on Employment Support and Allowance and Universal Credit, Caroline Ansell MP (Eastbourne, Cons) mentioned FSB networks as a means of ensuring that disabled entrepreneurs are integrated into local business networks.

During a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the Post Office, Gareth Thomas MP (Harrow West, Lab/Co-op) quoted FSB’s report on back branch closures, ‘Locked Out’, when criticising the Post Office for being too slow to expand their financial services offering: “Business banking services provided at some Post Office branches and franchises are too limited. Some services, such as cash and cheque clearing facilities, also appear to be processed more slowly than in bank branches. Other services, such as inter-account transfers and currency exchange, are not available. As the future of the network moves away from full-service post offices to franchises there is concern about the impact on small business access,” he said.

Small businesses procurement panel
The Government has convened a panel of business experts from across the UK to help boost procurement spending with small and medium sized firms. The advisory panel is made up of 24 entrepreneurs, including three FSB members – Abacus HR’s Tim Coleman, Caroline Brown from Caja, and Arnab Dutt of Dexo Technologies. They will work with the Government to ensure that by 2020, £1 of every £3 invested by Whitehall in goods and services goes to SMEs.

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