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06 April 2018

Weekly Brief 14 - Friday 6 April 2018

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.
New tax year means higher pension costs and lost reliefs for small firms
From today, the minimum employer contribution to auto-enrolment saving schemes has increased from 1% of pensionable pay, to 2%. At the same time, four million entrepreneurs will find themselves £150 worse off because of a delay to the scrapping of Class II National Insurance Contributions. Other changes taking effect include a reduction in the dividend allowance to £2,000, a doubling of the Enterprise Investment Scheme limit to £2 million and continuation of a Making Tax Digital trial among the self-employed. To read more about the changes, click here

Another troubling drop in apprenticeship numbers
FSB highlighted the latest drop in apprenticeship starts last week, continuing a worrying downward trend of fewer young people pursuing apprenticeships as an avenue to sustainable employment. The figures showed a 16 per cent drop in the number of 19 year olds starting apprenticeships. National Chairman Mike Cherry said the figures were a clear signal big businesses have not got to grips with the Apprenticeship Levy, but also that small businesses not paying the levy are struggling to offer opportunities as well.

Cash machines across the country are at threat of closure due to proposals from ATM network LINK. FSB has joined forces with consumer association Which? to urge the payments regulator to step in immediately to pause LINK's plans and conduct a market review. Cash is still king for many small businesses, particularly in rural areas and tourist hotspots, so a threat to the ATM network is a threat to local growth all over the country. If you are concerned about how the closure of cash machines in your area will affect your business, please get in touch with FSB's press team.

Tackling the productivity puzzle event
FSB will be represented at a Joseph Rowntree Foundation event exploring routes to increasing productivity across retail and hospitality firms, on 2 May in London. Also attending will be a range of businesses that are helping to close the UK's productivity gap as well as leading government figures and policy makers. Click here to register for the event.

Have your say on EU 'settled status' programme   
The Home Office is planning a number of focus groups for businesses to help inform its roll-out of the settlement scheme for EU citizens. EU citizens will need to go through a digital application process to retain their right to stay and work in the UK as it withdraws from the EU. If you are interested in taking part in the focus groups, which are taking place during the week commencing 16 April, please contact the FSB press office

Use your expertise to shape qualifications in your sector
Ofqual, England's qualifications regulator, would like to speak with business owners to help ensure qualifications are meeting the needs of employers across the country. As experts, business owners will be approached about particular projects or activities in their area. When these opportunities arise, those approached may be asked to give between one and three days of their time, paid on a day rate basis plus expenses. To find out more, visit the Ofqual website or contact Claire Gill.

Have your say on 'Internet of Things' security 
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is looking for feedback on their Secure by Design report, which sets out a number of proposals to improve the security of consumer 'Internet of Things' products and associated services. Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on the proposals by 25 April. Comments, including suggestions for other areas that should be considered as part of proposals, should be emailed to this address.  

LGBT+ entrepreneurs survey 
Researchers at Aston University and the University of Sussex are conducting an online survey to better understand the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people in business and enterprise in the UK. The study is being funded by the British Academy and will be used to inform practices that enable the growth of LGBT+ entrepreneurs in the economy. The team is particularly looking for more responses from LGBT+ people who own and run their own business, social enterprise or consultancy - either part or full-time. The survey can be found here

Join the ELITE 
Spring applications for the London Stock Exchange's ELITE programme are now open. The ELITE scheme provides long-term access to management support, networking opportunities and funding options. See the ELITE website for more information about the initiative and joining details.  

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.