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13 April 2018

Weekly Brief 15 - Friday 13 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.

Poor payers should be locked out to ease late payments crisis
This week, the Government announced a package aimed at tackling poor payment practices in the public procurement process. Responding, National Chairman Mike Cherry agreed Government has "a pivotal role to play in demonstrating what it is to be a good client". But, he added, the package of reforms should be followed by measures including a requirement for all large companies to appoint a non-executive director on boards with a specific responsibility to report on behalf of suppliers, as well as the use of Project Bank Accounts.  

Tesco supply chain reform pays dividends
After Tesco announced a pre-tax profit of £1.3 billion, Mike Cherry said the company had worked on improving the way it treats small suppliers. He added Tesco's takeover of Booker, if done right, should bring real benefits to its small business customers in the form of a more efficient ordering framework, lower prices and better access to fresh produce. "Done wrong, we'll have a market player that dominates the entire industry, putting the futures of small retailers at risk," he warned. 

FCA needs to create redress system fit for small firms 
FSB responded to the launch of the Financial Conduct Authority's business plan for the year ahead, which states that the regulator will publish final rules for allowing greater small business access to the Financial Ombudsman Service in the coming months. Mike Cherry expressed his disappointment that the proposal for expanding the Ombudsman's remit didn't extend to increasing its award limit, supporting small business owners whose firms have gone under due to mistreatment, or considering whether commercial lending should be regulated.

Modern working practices: FSB wants to hear from you
The Government is consulting on how to make employment status rules for employment rights and tax clearer for businesses and individuals. As FSB develops its response to the consultation, we want to hear from members about their views on changes to the rules, which currently apply to the self-employed, and if tax liabilities and employment rights be aligned. We also want views on whether the holiday pay reference period should be extended from 12 to 52 weeks for workers without normal working hours. Contact Employment and Pensions Policy Lead Emelia Quist for more information.  

Mental Health Awareness Week campaign
We are looking for members to get involved with a campaign to mark Mental Health Awareness Week next month, which focuses on stress. Participants would need to be willing to send in an image and quote about how they deal with stress as a small business owner or self-employed person, which would be used on our social media channels. For more information and to get involved, email David Moore-Crouch from FSB's press team.  

Submit your evidence to help Carillion investigation 
The Official Receiver would like businesses that dealt with Carillion before it went into liquidation to take part in a questionnaire, which will feed into statutory investigations. The questionnaire is now live and will run until 9 May 2018. Anyone who did business with the companies in liquidation, whether they are a creditor or not, is asked to take part. Separately, a documentary-maker is looking for a few small businesses which has been significantly affected financially by Carillion's collapse. If you would potentially be willing to speak to the media about your experience, please email the press office.

Do you own a .EU domain for your business? 
If you have a .EU domain for your business, we would like to talk to you about the consequences of changes to the domain, post-Brexit. Contact David Geary.

Ideas wanted for Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
Innovate UK is inviting ideas for the third wave of societal and industrial challenges to tackle as part of government's Industrial Strategy. Businesses can submit proposals aligned with one of the four grand challenges: artificial intelligence and the data economy; clean growth; the future of mobility; and meeting the needs of an ageing society. The deadline is Wednesday 18 April. 

Survey launched into how small firms contribute to their community
Small Business Saturday is exploring how small business owners contribute to their local community, and would like the views of FSB members. You can take part in the survey here.  

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.