Business-friendly Budget brings FSB wins After months of intense campaigning on issues that matter to small businesses, FSB was pleased the Chancellor announced a set of business-friendly measures when he unveiled the Autumn Budget on Wednesday. FSB strongly pushed for changes to the flawed business rates system including for the 'staircase tax' to be axed, and the Chancellor agreed, as seen in Daily Mail, The Sun, and Financial Times. Fierce lobbying over VAT resulted in the Chancellor committing to maintain the current VAT threshold for the next two years. This was covered by The Sun, iNews, City AM and The Times. There were also some big commitments to encourage small housebuilders to get building again. And FSB appeared on Talk Radio, Sky News, BBC and LBC. See our full reaction to the Budget and catch up on our periscopes with National Chairman Mike Cherry and Head of Policy Sonali Parekh. You can also read Mike Cherry's blog. Apprenticeships drop The number of apprenticeships has dropped 59 per cent compared to the same time a year ago. As outlined in City AM, FSB is concerned about the drop, especially given apprenticeships are so critical to tackling skills shortages. FSB called for the Government to make sure that when larger levy paying businesses are able to share their digital vouchers they do so with firms in their supply chain. Volunteer with FSB FSB is encouraging members to nominate themselves for the new volunteer role of regional policy representative. FSB is looking to appoint nine of these roles in England, as well as roles in the devolved nations. The policy representatives will be the formal link between national policy and local activity. Find out more and nominate yourself here. Parliamentary Update On Wednesday, the Chancellor mentioned FSB during the Budget statement in the House of Commons, noting our concerns when ruling out reducing the VAT threshold for businesses. On Tuesday, during a House of Lords debate on Start-Ups, Baroness Burt of Solihull (Lib Dem) quoted our small business confidence index, -the FSB says that small business confidence has plummeted since the Brexit vote, with rising inflation and a weakening domestic economy.' Do you use digital platforms? FSB would like to hear from members in the accommodation sector who use digital platforms, such as online booking or review websites for their business. What, if any, problems have you experienced using digital platforms? For example: are the terms and conditions of use fair to your business? Are charges and commissions excessively high? Does the platform take action against unfair and malicious reviewers? If you'd be happy to share your experiences, please get in touch with FSB Policy Advisor Richard Hyde. New digital skills resources toolkit for small businesses Lloyds Bank and its partners on the Small Business Digital Capability taskforce, of which FSB are members, has produced a toolkit of resources that signpost to both free face-to-face and online digital tips and training - looking at topics such as digital marketing, analytics, social media and cyber security. Click here to access the toolkit, or contact Education and Skills Policy Advisor Annie Peate for more information. SME survey for businesses that are growing The Government-owned British Business Bank is looking for small businesses that have grown by at least 10% in the last year to feed into the design of a new website to help SMEs choose the best finance options. If you'd like to take part, there is a short 3 minute survey to select businesses to share their views. 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. Join for free and start making sure your voice is heard. You may also like 23 February 2018 Weekly Brief 8 – Friday 23 February 2018 22 February 2018 Bank branch closures bad news for small business 16 February 2018 Weekly Brief 7 – Friday 16 February 2018 06 December 2017 FSB to host Twitter chat about skills and training in small businesses 01 September 2017 Weekly Brief 36 – Friday 1 September 2017 04 May 2016 Make your vote count tomorrow!