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11 October 2019

Weekly Brief 41 - Friday 11 October 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

Brexit Hub

The terms of the UK's exit from the European Union remain unclear with a no-deal on 31 October remaining a possibility. To support small firms and the self-employed to prepare for this scenario, FSB has launched a new information hub which is designed to provide you with practical information to help you plan and prepare. All of the information on the hub is based on information provided by the UK Government and the European Union. You can find out more by visiting our no-deal information hub.

Brexit Readiness Webinar

On this coming Wednesday 16 October, the Government will be hosting a business readiness event online as part of its Get Ready for Brexit initiative. Through a variety of presentations and opportunities for Q&A, representatives from a wide range of government departments will be outlining the steps businesses should be taking to prepare for the EU's withdrawal from the EU. Topics covered will include dealing with personal data, imports and exports as well as employment of EU citizens. Register here: https://bit.ly/2OxKA7a.   

Immigration Survey

We want to hear your views on the Government's proposals for the formation of a new immigration system following Brexit. If you're an FSB member then check your emails for a link to the survey.

THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW

Monday

At the start of the week, FSB called on the Government to issue export vouchers to assist small firms that are trying to increase their trading potential. The story was covered by The Times, Sun and City AM.

Tuesday

Responding to the announcement of updates to the Government's temporary tariff regime, which would take effect in the event of a no-deal Brexit, FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry warned that "the cold hard fact remains that two thirds of small businesses that fear the impacts of no-deal feel they cannot prepare for this outcome." Read more of Mike's thoughts in the Times.

Elsewhere, new ONS suggest that, after two consecutive quarters of zero growth, productivity fell by 0.5% over the past three months. Mike Cherry stressed that the figures were "a clear sign that the continued political uncertainty and impending threat of a no-deal Brexit were having a serious impact on small businesses and the wider economy." Read more in the FT.

Tuesday also saw FSB announce its commitment to a series of initiatives aimed at improving employee mental health. Chief Executive Julie Lilley said that "Just like all smaller business, we want to be a responsible employer and attract and retain the best people we can. We want to put strategies in place to bring the best out of every individual in our talented team."

Wednesday

Mike Cherry attended the World Trade Organisation's headquarters in Geneva to launch FSB's latest report, -Trading Forward'. Mike spoke about the need for WTO members to work together to ensure that small firms are equipped with the right tools to succeed and go global.

Responding to new analysis from the consumer group Which? suggesting that almost one in eight (12%) rural communities must travel at least one kilometre to their nearest free-to-use cashpoint Mike Cherry said that the loss of so many cashpoints threatens to create "small business deserts."

New FSB statistics show that small firms believe it has become harder to recruit and retain EU staff since the Brexit referendum. Over a quarter (26%) believe that recruitment of EU staff has become more difficult over the past three years. 

Thursday

In response to the latest GDP and trade deficit estimates, Mike Cherry warned that "small businesses are completely hamstrung by current uncertainty. Confidence has been down for five straight quarters, investment plans are on ice and exports are falling. The Government needs to step-in with radical measures to arrest the malaise." His comments were covered by the Sun. 

And the Bank of England revealed the new £20 note, which is set to enter circulation in February 2020. Mike Cherry welcomed the development, highlighting that it would help "small businesses to spend time and money on issues away from fraud." The Bank's Chief Cashier, Sarah John, stressed to FSB that "the improved security and reliability mean that retailers and other small businesses will benefit from this change." Read more in the Mail and the Independent.

Friday

FSB has produced a freely available webinar on how you as small business owners can prepare for a no-deal Brexit. Click here to register and listen to the webinar.

And speaking after the European Union agreed to intensify Brexit negotiations, Mike Cherry said that following months of uncertainty, "there appears to finally be a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel."

FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

In response to a question from Tom Brake MP (Lib Dem) on the Government's business readiness fund Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove stated that it was "well subscribed by organisations such as the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses, to make sure that businesses are prepared for life outside the EU." 

Lord Purvis of Tweed (Lib Dem) referenced FSB's comments about adjustments to the tariff schedule that would take effect in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

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