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03 November 2017

Weekly Brief 45 – Friday 3 November 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, please use this link.  
 
Rate rise means more cost pressures on small firms
Thursday's announcement of a 0.25 per cent increase in the Bank Rate to 0.5 per cent means yet more cost pressures for small firms as they battle spiralling prices and flagging consumer demand, said National Chairman Mike Cherry. Responding to the Bank of England's announcement, he said an increase was inevitable at some stage, but warned that many businesses will be unable to absorb more hikes in the short-term. FSB's Policy Director Martin McTague appeared on Sky News discussing the impact on small businesses.

Chancellor must end business rates chaos at Budget
Phillip Hammond should end the staircase tax in England and Wales, bring business rates bill increases under control and commit to more frequent rates revaluations at the Autumn Budget. FSB's asks come seven months after the 2017 business rates revaluation took effect in Scotland, Wales and England on 1 April. The Chancellor must commit to more frequent business rates revaluations to allow firms to benefit from fluctuations in the property market. FSB's latest Budget ask announcement was covered in The Sun.  

Millions face £150 tax sting
The Government has announced there would be a delay to the abolition of Class II National Insurance Contributions to April 2019. The hold-up means more than four million hard-working self-employed will not benefit from an expected tax cut of nearly £150. Mike Cherry said the delay was "regrettable and costly" but welcomed the firm commitment to deliver a simplified service in 2019. 

Small firms await findings of fresh GRG inquiry 
After the heads of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) were questioned on Royal Bank of Scotland's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) by the Treasury Select Committee this week, Mike Cherry said it was concerning to hear reports that former GRG customers are unaware of the complaints process set up to support them. He reiterated that the most important thing now is that those treated unfairly by GRG "receive the redress they're due".

#FSBChat on women in enterprise 
Leading digital entrepreneur and cross-bench peer Martha Lane Fox has joined forces with FSB to host a twitter chat on women in enterprise. Join in the conversation on Monday 13 November from 12-1pm using #FSBChat. We'll be discussing the barriers and opportunities for women in business, with insights from a panel of inspirational and successful entrepreneurs. Tweet your questions ahead of the chat to @fsb_policy.  

FSB's Brexit campaign shortlisted for award
FSB has been shortlisted for the Brexit-Related Public Affairs Campaign of the Year in the EU Public Affairs Award 2017. With one in three members actively engaged in EU-wide trade, FSB has a crucial role in shaping Brexit and was quick to assess the impact of the referendum outcome on small firms. Key wins have included securing a commitment from the Chancellor to protect short term access to EU Funding and and meeting with key business and governmental representatives in major European capitals. The winners will be announced on 22 November in Brussels- read more about it here.  

Parliamentary Mentions 
On Monday, during a House of Lords debate on the Data Protection Bill, Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con), tabled a number of amendments to the bill using FSB evidence, saying "research by the Federation of Small Businesses shows that data protection regulation is one of the most salient regulations for 59% of small businesses. The federation provided me with some estimates which suggest that small businesses in the ICT sector alone will spend £700 million in man hours on implementing the new requirements".

In the same debate Lord Arbuthnot (Con) also quoted our work, stating "The Federation of Small Businesses has said how a sole trader might have to pay £1,500 for the work needed, and someone with 25 employees might have to pay £20,000".

During DCLG questions on Monday, Dan Jarvis MP (Lab, Barnsley Central) cited FSB's support for a devolved settlement for One Yorkshire.

Also during DCLG questions, Mary Robinson MP (Cons, Cheadle) asked "last year, the Federation of Small Businesses reported on the untapped potential of women in enterprise. Does the Minister agree that encouraging more women into business and supporting female entrepreneurs is key to the success of the northern powerhouse?".

On Tuesday during a debate on the Finance Bill, Jonathan Reynolds MP (Lab, Stalybridge and Hyde) mentioned FSB's concerns about Making Tax Digital. 

Do you claim R&D tax credits? 
HMRC is currently developing a digital form for small businesses to make their R&D tax credit claims. They are looking for small business that have made R&D claims in the past and would be prepared to spend an hour or two trialling the new form. HMRC will travel to the company and provide everything they need. If you are interested in being involved please email Public Affairs Advisor Jessica Smith.

New £10m fund to support adults to upskill and reskill
A £10m flexible working fund is available for businesses to work with colleges and independent training providers to design, develop and test innovative ways of delivering technical and basic skills to adults and break down the barriers to upskilling. The fund is open for project proposals until January 31 2018. For more information on submitting a proposal, visit the website or send an email

How confident are you feeling? 
Our latest quarterly survey on small business confidence is due to go live at the beginning of next week. 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.