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07 September 2018

Weekly Brief 36 - Friday 7 September 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.

Government U-turn on NICs for self employed

The Government has announced that self-employed people will continue paying Class II National Insurance Contributions (NICs), despite promising that the tax would be scrapped in April 2018. The move is set to net the Treasury more than £350 million annually in the three years to 2021. FSB warned that the move raised serious questions about the Government's commitment to supporting the self-employed. The BBC featured the FSB in their take on the issue here.

High streets hub launches to help small firms flourish 

FSB has launched a new online High Streets Hub, setting out how the UK government and local authorities in England can help high streets to flourish. The hub highlights five key areas, touching on business rates, parking, appeal rates bills, the rate relief rule and access to banking services. The hub features targeted recommendations for policymakers, including a freeze on business rates. Visit the hub and listen to a podcast on the new initiative here. The Times looked at the issue here.

Disappointment over fresh RBS closures

Reacting to the news that RBS is to close a further 54 bank branches across England and Wales, National Chairman Mike Cherry said that the move adds insult to injury after the £45 million dedicated to branch access was dropped from the RBS remedies put forward in place of a Williams & Glyn sale. He stressed that branch services - not least cash deposit and withdrawal facilities - remain crucial for many small firms. While 90 per cent of FSB members use online banking, access is limited for those in rural areas with slow broadband speeds. The news was widely covered including here at the Mirror.

Government breaks pensions dashboard promise

This week, it was announced by the Government that the responsibility for developing a pensions dashboard had been handed to private firms. This breaks a promise that had been made by ministers on several occasions. FSB reacted by saying that the news would leave the UK's 4.8 million-strong self-employed community feeling thoroughly let down.

Crossrail delays a national embarrassment

Following the announcement that the Crossrail project is to be delayed by almost a year, Mike Cherry described the hold-up as -unacceptable'. The east to west rail line - which will stretch from Berkshire to Essex - was due to open in December 2018, but the launch has been pushed back to the autumn of 2019. Mike Cherry added that the delay meant nine months of extra construction costs, lost revenues and continued pressure on the jam-packed transport routes Crossrail was meant to ease. FSB's views were covered widely including at The Times.

Parliamentary Mentions

FSB was mentioned in a debate in the House of Lords about careers advice. Baroness Bull (Crossbench) spoke about the importance of developing soft skills and the role careers advice can play in increasing social mobility. Lord Watson (Labour) spoke about the work FSB does to encourage small businesses to work with schools, including primary schools.      

ACAS publishes new advice on employment references

Most employers use employment references as part of their recruitment process and, whether you're asking for or supplying them, it's important to know the rules that apply when doing so. That's why ACAS has unveiled a new guide to help employers with references.   

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