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12 April 2019

Weekly Brief 15 - Friday 12 April 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

HMRC extends deadline for customs funding

The deadline for applications for a government initiative to help businesses prepare for EU Exit has been extended to 31 May 2019. The £8 million fund will support customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations, and can be used to help businesses meet the costs of employee training and IT improvements.

EU settlement scheme: Employer toolkit 

If you are an employer, then take a look at the employer toolkit that equips employers with the right tools and information to support EU citizens and their families to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Employer Bulletin: April 2019

The latest edition of HMRC'S bi-monthly Employer Bulletin is now available to read. It contains articles on Spring Statement update, reporting PAYE information for non-banking pay days, reporting expenses and benefits in kind for the tax year ending 5 April 2019 and Basic PAYE Tools

Navigating Brexit event

The London Growth Hub are running a series of training sessions for small and medium-sized enterprises aimed at helping firms anticipate how Brexit will impact on their business activity and industry. Sign up here.

Innovation summit

The EUREKA Global Innovation Summit is taking place in Manchester between 14 and 16 May 2019. The event will bring together businesses and policy makers, looking to drive growth through innovation. Find out more and sign up here.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU 

Broadband survey

If you are a Big Voice member, then our latest survey on how your broadband, mobile and energy services impact your business is ready to be filled in. You have until the 18 April to complete the survey. Big Voice is FSB's unique online research community and if you aren't already signed up, it's free for members to join.

Were you refused export or trade finance?

We're interested to hear from members who tried to access export or trade finance but were refused. If you sell your product overseas, whether directly or indirectly, and were denied export finance to support the deal, we want to hear from you. If so, please contact Dana Elman.

THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW

Monday & Tuesday

The new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force on Monday affecting central London. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry spoke to BBC Breakfast about the impact of the new charges on small firms. He later appeared on the BBC News Channel to discuss the same issue. FSB's London Policy Chair Sue Terpilowski also featured on BBC News to discuss the charge which will eventually expand to all of London.

The start of the week also saw the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) use his naming and shaming powers for the first time to highlight big businesses with poor payment practices towards their small suppliers.

The health food chain Holland & Barrett was singled out for criticism by the Commissioner. FSB's work to end the late payment crisis and the news from the SBC was widely covered including the FT, The Guardian and BBC Breakfast. Holland and Barrett later responded to FSB, saying that it was working to improve its processes and was "determined to eliminate late supplier payments."

Wednesday

The West Midlands Regional Chair Emma Heathcote-James appeared on BBC Radio 4's Moneybox Live, to discuss auto-enrolment and the problems that increased pension costs have on small firms.

FSB this week recognised several businesses who are all owned and run by those who previously served in the Armed Forces. The firms were all award-winners at the 2019 Soldiering On Awards and to mark their achievements, they were all granted special Honorary FSB Memberships.

Thursday

After a six-month extension was granted by the EU to help fix the Brexit crisis, FSB called for the extension to be used wisely to ensure that the parliamentary deadlock was resolved. Mike Cherry featured on BBC News to discuss the matter, as did FSB Northern Ireland's Chair Tina McKenzie.

Meanwhile, Mike Cherry was reappointed for a second three-year term as FSB's National Chairman, also reappointed was Martin McTague, Chairman, Policy and Advocacy. Read the full list of appointments here.

FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Late Payments

Chair of the Small Business APPG Robert Courts spoke about the scourge of late payments to small businesses and asked if the Government will celebrate companies with good payment practices. The Economic Secretary John Glen replied that the Chancellor had announced that company audit committees will be required to review payment practices and report on them in their annual accounts. He added that the Government will publish the full response to the call for evidence shortly. 

Business rates

Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Conservative) echoed FSB's calls for the business rates system to be made fit for the 21st century. The Minister Lord Bates said that the Government had reviewed the system in 2016 and made a number of changes including doubling small business relief, more frequent revaluations, and linking the multiplier increases to CPI instead of RPI. He added that they have also introduced the High Streets Fund and a retail discount for business rates.

Access to finance

Shadow BEIS Minister Gill Furniss highlighted problems small businesses have in accessing borrowing, and asked if the Government would consider creating a publicly owned postal bank to provide finance for small businesses. The Minister said that instead they wanted to resist additional FCA fees, increased compliance and monitoring costs, and narrow product choice. 

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 you. Join for free to make sure your voice is heard. 

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