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11 January 2019

Weekly Brief 2 - Friday 11 January


Have a view on public prourement? 

FSB is supporting a project with PUBLIC, founded by a former No.10 advisor to explore how technology, start-ups and small businesses can transform public procurement. As PUBLIC develops its research project, the team needs to better understand the challenges SMEs face. As a result, they have launched a survey to gather SME experiences of the government procurement process.  If you'd like to help shape the research with your views, this survey takes two minutes to complete and will be live throughout January. 


Three months until tax goes digital

There are just under three months left until Making Tax Digital goes live. HMRC has put together plenty of advice to help prepare for the change. FSB also has an MTD Hub offering guidance and information so that you are prepared for the changes when they come into place on the 1 April.



Amid mounting concerns about the chances of a chaotic no-deal Brexit, FSB warned that some small businesses are already losing sales because European customers are concerned about the impact of potential future tariffs.


A new emissions charge for vehicles driving through central London will be coming into place on 8 April, sooner than the 2020 date originally proposed for its enforcement. While welcoming efforts to improve air quality, FSB stressed that small businesses need more time to adapt to the policy. The early introduction of the charge will hit those who were working to original 2020 deadline particularly hard. 


FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry reacted to the news that productivity has slumped to a two-year low according to the latest research from the Office for National Statistics. He said that the productivity data "demonstrated exactly what a prolonged period of uncertainty does to an economy." 

And thousands of self-employed people were given fresh hope when the Government confirmed that it will review the loan charge, a retrospective tax on those who have historically made use of alternative remuneration schemes.


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the UK as part of efforts to ensure trade is uninterrupted after Britain leaves the European Union. Currently, 130,000 small businesses export to Japan, highlighting the importance of continued trade between the two nations.

FSB was also pleased to confirm that the comedian, writer and actress Meera Syal will be presenting the FSB Awards 2019.


Reacting to the news that despite recording sales of £8.8billion, Amazon paid just £63million in business rates last year. Mike Cherry said that the tax system has failed to keep up with modern business or adapt to the rise of digital: "It's simply not fit for purpose". 


Business rates discount

The Local Government Committee heard evidence from High Streets Minister Jake Berry this week. The chair Clive Betts MP raised FSB's concerns that guidance to local authorities on the retail business rates discount announced in the Autumn was far too complicated and risked putting off small businesses from applying. The Minister agreed to review it. 

Apprenticeships and skills 

MPs mentioned FSB's research on skills shortages in small businesses and concerns that T-level placements could be an unfunded burden on small businesses in a debate on apprenticeships and skills this week. Skills Minister Anne Milton said that she is working closely with FSB to ensure the Government gets the apprenticeship system right for small businesses. 


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