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21 July 2017

Weekly Brief 30 - Friday 21 July 2017

A wrap of the week’s small business news from FSB’s Westminster Press, Policy and Public Affairs Office. To sign-up for Weekly Brief emails, 



A visit to Number 10
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry went to Downing Street this week for a business and Brexit meeting with Theresa May and senior ministers. It was part of FSB's ongoing engagement at the highest levels to make sure decision-makers have small businesses top of the priority list as the Brexit talks continue. This is underpinned by our series of Brexit reports, looking in-depth at how Brexit could affect SMEs. The last in this series, on the future of regulation post-EU, was published this week, based upon the views and experiences of a large number of FSB members. 

Customs experiences shared 
FSB members shared their experiences of customs and rules of origin with officials from the Department of Exiting the EU, during a roundtable event at the London office on Wednesday. Officers from the Treasury, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs were also present. 

Inflation rates announced
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) remained above the Government's 2% at 2.6% and the Retail Prices Index (RPI) stands at 3.5%. Mike Cherry emphasised that help is needed for those hardest hit businesses, and encouraged that the switch to rates bills rising in line with CPI rather than RPI is brought forward to 2018 in a bid to supporting small firms.

Parliamentary update
On Monday, during a schools update in the House of Commons, Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, spoke of how she was working with FSB 'to look at how we can bring forward reforms on T-levels so that every child who chooses to go down the technical route, rather than pursuing a purely academic education, receives a gold-standard education'

On Tuesday, during a debate on Drugs Policy, Ruth George (Lab, High Peak) quoted the FSB's support of the Conservative Manifesto 'proposal for national insurance holidays to support small and medium-sized businesses in taking on people in hard-to-reach groups, especially those who are users or ex-users of drugs'.

Also on Tuesday, during a House of Lords debate on the European Union Committee Brexit: trade in goods report, Lord Teverson (Lib Dem) spoke of how FSB was 'united on our need to stay as near as we can to the single market, certainly in terms of a transitional arrangement'.

How changes to GCSE grading might impact businesses
GCSEs in England are changing, with the new system grading from 9 to 1 with 9 being the top grade. To help businesses prepare and learn more about the changes, Ofqual have online resources available, including videos and information for employers on LinkedIn and the Ofqual webpage. For more information on the changes, contact Education & Skills Policy Advisor, Annie Peate.

Young exporter award
Nominations are open for this year's GTR-BExA Young Exporter Award 2017. The competition is open to candidates aged 35 or under (on December 31 2016) and employed in the export department of a manufacturing, trading or financial services company registered in the UK. The successful candidate, selected from a short-list of interviewed nominees, will have typically played a key role in winning a significant order or a series of smaller orders, or in establishing a successful new business which has led to increased export competitiveness. The deadline is Friday 28 July. Apply here.

Innovation funding opportunity
Organisations are now able to apply for up to £2 million Small Business Research Initiative funding for projects aimed at reducing the threat from terrorists and explosives in public spaces. The funding is available for developing technologies that use a crowd to identify a threat and seeks proposals for technologies, systems and behavioural sciences.

Shape the new Small Business Commissioner digital service
The new Small Business Commissioner will help small businesses resolve payment related issues with larger businesses. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will shortly be testing a new digital service to support the Commissioner's work and are looking for small business owners to take part. Please contact Will Black if you are interested in being involved.

Want to be involved in a virtual telecoms advisory group?
The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport portfolio under chair David Webb is planning to set up a virtual advisory group on telecoms. The intention is that this group will meet online on an as-needed basis to discuss legislation and policy emerging from the department. If you'd like to be involved, please contact Will Black.

How confident are you feeling? 
Our latest quarterly survey on small business confidence is now live. If you're a member of Big Voice, check your email to take part. Otherwise you can sign up to Big Voice here. FSB uses the Small Business Index to make the case directly to leading politicians and other policymakers about what small businesses need. The survey closes on Wednesday 26 July.