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26 April 2019

Weekly Brief 17 - Friday 26 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

Innovation funding

Applications are now open for Innovate UK’s latest round of Smart grants. These are available for ambitious, disruptive research and development (R&D) projects with a high potential for commercial success. In order to apply, you’ll need either an idea for a completely new product, service or process, or a brand-new use for what’s already out there. Funding is for the very best concepts, no matter their field or stage of development. Applications close on 24 July.

Senior manager initiative steps-up  

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) – which aims to support healthy cultures and effective governance in firms by encouraging greater individual accountability and establishing a new standard of personal conduct – is being extended to FCA-regulated firms of all sizes from 9 December. The FCA is urging business owners to start work on their Statements of Responsibility and Responsibility Maps immediately to ensure they are fully prepared for SMCR enforcement later in the year. More details on the change can be found here and here.   

Payments roundtable

The FCA is hosting a roundtable discussion on the EU’s Second Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) which took effect at the beginning of last year. The legislation has ushered in a number of changes in the banking and payments space, impacting many different business models – with a particular relevance for e-commerce platforms and digital marketplaces. The discussion is taking place in Stratford, London on 23 May. Sign-up and find out more by emailing psd2project@fca.org.uk.

THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW

Wednesday & Thursday

With pupils returning to the classroom this week following the Easter break, FSB called on the Government to reintroduce some form of work experience for pupils aged 14-16. The move followed the launch of its ‘Small Business, Big Heart’ report earlier in the year. The ask was widely covered, including in The Times and The I. FSB’s Director of Communications Louise Stewart and Head of Policy Sonali Parekh appeared on LBC to discuss the matter.

Friday

FSB’s latest policy report was launched today, examining the state of the current apprenticeships system. FSB is calling for changes to the system to help small businesses in England who are struggling to take on new apprentices after widespread reforms in 2017. The report was covered in The Times, FT and FE Week.

Elsewhere, Mike Cherry spoke to the Telegraph about new rules requiring shoppers to provide multiple pieces of information when making low-value purchases online, set to take effect later this year. “Small business owners are absolutely committed to customer security, but rolling out Strong Customer Authentication before businesses and shoppers are prepared for it will be bad for all concerned” he warned, adding: “we’re a few months from enforcement and hardly anyone has even heard of it”.  

FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Fair Pay Fair Play

Earlier this week, Mark Pawsey MP (Conservative, Rugby) asked the Government what action it is taking to ensure small businesses are paid on time, mentioning FSB’s ‘Fair Pay Fair Play’ campaign. He called for project bank accounts to be more widely used to protect small suppliers when a large contractor fails. The Minister Oliver Dowden said that, from September, the Government will exclude suppliers with poor payment records from government contracts.

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