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21 September 2018

Weekly Brief 38- Friday 21 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.

Small businesses entirely unprepared for chaotic no deal Brexit

Only one in seven (14%) small businesses have starting planning for a no deal Brexit, according to new research published by FSB on Tuesday. A further 41% believe that a no deal Brexit will have an impact on their businesses but haven't yet started planning for the possibility. It comes amid growing uncertainty around the outcome of Brexit negotiations, with EU leaders this week suggesting that Theresa May's Chequer's Plan may not be workable. This was widely covered in the press including this piece in The Sun.

Major immigration report unveiled

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its recommendations for the UK's post-Brexit immigration system this week. The MAC recommends that there be no preferential treatment for EU citizens and that the cap on highly-skilled migrants be removed. Mike Cherry said that the report was deeply concerning for the small business community. Concerns have been raised over the administrative costs that smaller firms would encounter if the report's recommendations were implemented.  

FSB welcomes CMA investigation into Sainsbury's-Asda merger

It was announced this week that the proposed £15 billion merger between Sainsbury's and Asda is to be subject to an in-depth investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority. FSB welcomed the announcement, with the hope that the investigation will produce cast-iron guarantees that there will be a positive relationship between the merged entity and small suppliers if the deal goes ahead. This was covered in several parts of the press, including this piece in the Financial Times.

Small business confidence slumps amid Brexit uncertainty

Confidence among small businesses has dropped significantly this quarter, and the self-employed are feeling particularly pessimistic about their prospects for the coming months, according to the latest Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Small Business Index (SBI). The UK confidence measure fell to -1.7 in July, making the third negative reading since the EU referendum. Firms in the retail sector remain the least confident, reporting an SBI of -42. 

Rail services go off the rails

Reacting to the Government's review into the state of Britain's railways, the FSB called for action to get businesses moving again with a reliable rail network. Mike Cherry said that if we want to increase the productivity of small firms, a well-maintained, reliable and integrated transport system is crucial. The review will hope to make recommendations to be implemented for 2020.

FSB appoints Volunteer Armed Forces champion

The FSB has appointed Ren Kapur MBE, Chief Executive Office of X-Forces Enterprise to the newly created position of Volunteer Armed Forces champion for small businesses. The move is one of a series of deliverables set out in a new Memorandum of Understanding between FSB and XFE. These include knowledge sharing, representation, research and joint public relations opportunities.

National Minimum Wage Youth Rates: we want to hear from you

The Low Pay Commission is undertaking a review of National Minimum Wage Youth rates. The National Living Wage is for workers aged 25 and over. The other minimum wage rates comprise the 21-24 Year Old Rate, the 18-20 Year Old Rate, the 16-17 Year Old Rate and the Apprentice Rate, see here. If you are currently using these youth rates, we want to hear from you as part of our research. Please contact Emelia Quist. 

Counting the cost of calories

Under new plans by the Government's childhood obesity strategy, it has been proposed that all restaurants, cafes and establishments that sell food will need to display how many calories are in each of their products. FSB would like to know your thoughts on this matter, please contact Jordan Bhatt.

Businesses in the community focus group and survey

FSB wants to hear your views on how small businesses play a part in their communities:  supporting charities, social enterprises and local groups. Small businesses add social value to their surrounding areas - with implications for procurement processes. A Big Voice survey on this issue is coming out next week, so please check your inboxes. FSB is also setting up a focus group to discuss the subject - please contact Matt Jaffa to attend. 

CMA reforms making life easier for SMEs

The CMA have recently undergone a series of reforms to help make personal and business banking easier. The changes that were announced back in February have been put in place over recent months to specifically help the needs of small businesses. Read more about the changes here. 

Join Big Voice and make your business heard

Big Voice is FSB's unique online research community and it's free for members to join. By responding to one of our surveys, members give us the evidence we need to engage with politicians around the world on the subjects that matter to small firms. Join for free to make sure your voice is heard.