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15 March 2019

Weekly Brief 11 - Friday 15 March 2019

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.

LATEST ADVICE & OPPORTUNITIES

Making Tax Digital

With just over two weeks to go until the launch of Making Tax Digital (MTD), the Government has issued information to help businesses that will need to adapt to the changes before they come into force on 1 April. FSB has its own MTD hub which has plenty of information to help you with the transition. Please share your views on the roll-out with Lorence Nye and Matt Dickinson. 

New legal measures for NDAs

Many businesses legitimately use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and confidentiality clauses in agreements to protect confidential information. BEIS has published new legal measures to protect workers from misuse of non-disclosure agreements. Read more here.

CMA wants to hear from you

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) would like to hear your thoughts on its online information regarding fair competition and legal issues.  Your input will help shape how the CMA updates its website resources to best serve business needs.  The short online survey is open until 26 March and all responses are anonymous.  

ACAS advice on pay

New National Minimum Wage/Living Wage rates come into effect from the 1 April. More information regarding the changes can be found here. You can also visit the ACAS site to find out more information about managing payrolls and wages.

THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW

Monday 

It was a busy week for FSB with Brexit debates and the Spring Statement taking place in the House of Commons. Ahead of the Spring Statement, FSB urged the Chancellor and Treasury to tackle UK's late payment crisis. The call follows the success of the #FairPayFairPlay campaign. 

Tuesday

On Tuesday, Theresa May brought her Brexit plan to the House of Commons to be voted on for a second time. The Withdrawal Agreement was once again overwhelmingly voted down by MPs. 

Appearing on CNN, FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said that the ongoing Brexit uncertainty was creating an environment where small businesses are unable to plan for the future. He also urged MPs to stop playing political games with just two weeks to go until 29 March.

Wednesday 

The Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled his Spring Statement on Wednesday, singling out FSB's tireless campaigning on late payments, and announcing that company audit committees will now be required to report on payment practices. Mike Cherry welcomed the measure, adding that FSB's campaigning will continue to ensure further reforms are delivered.

Thursday 

The House of Commons voted in favour of a short extension to Article 50 as negotiations with the EU continue. FSB welcomed this as a step back from a cliff edge no deal Brexit scenario, but added that a clear and coherent plan was needed for the next stages.

FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Business confidence

During the Spring Statement debate, Work and Pensions Committee Chair Rachel Reeves (Leeds West, Labour) raised the findings of FSB's Small Business Index, saying that business confidence is low and investment is suffering. The Chancellor responded that business investment is forecasted to recover to 2.3% next year, and eventually recover entirely.

MPs debate no deal Brexit

During debates this week on how to proceed with Brexit, Matt Western (Labour, Warwick and Leamington) said that FSB and other business organisation had asked MPs to avoid a no deal Brexit on 29 March, as he called for MPs to extend article 50 and find an agreement. Having voted against leaving the EU without a deal under any circumstance and voted to seek an extension to article 50, MPs will vote on the withdrawal agreement for a third time by 20 March. 

Trade Bill

The Lords continue to debate the Trade Bill, during which Lord Bates (Conservative) said that FSB feeds into the EU Exit Business Advisory Group, which meets regularly. This week the Lords passed an amendment to prevent the Trade Bill coming into force in the event of a no deal Brexit. 

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