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08 November 2019

Weekly Brief 45 - Friday 8 November

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

Register to vote

With a snap general election approaching on 12 December, ensure you have registered to vote so that you can have your say on who forms the next government later this year. The deadline to apply for registration is the 26 November, but this may be earlier if you'd like to vote by post. Find out more and register here. As always, FSB will be engaging with all major political parties over the weeks ahead as manifestos are compiled. We'll be outlining our asks in our own small business manifesto shortly. 

Brexit Hub

As the Brexit process continues, check out our FSB information hub for practical information about how to plan and prepare for the UK's withdrawal from the EU. All of the information on the hub is based on information provided by the UK Government and European Union. You can find out more here.

Access Australia event

FSB has teamed up with the UK-Australia Chamber of Commerce to host -Access Australia: The Next Big Market for British SMEs'. This evening reception and briefing at Australia House in London will provide advice on how to buy from, sell to and expand in the country - a key potential market for many UK small businesses. To join us for an evening of discussion on the challenges and opportunities, as well as plenty of real life small business exporting stories, please register here. 

Business Basics grants

The third round of applications for the Business Basics fund closes in less than five weeks. Grants of up to £400k are available to run trials around encouraging smaller businesses to adopt technologies that help with back office functions such as accountancy, payroll and invoicing. The closing date for the Expressions of Interest (EoI) stage is 12pm on Wednesday 4 December 2019. Following the EoI stage, shortlisted bidders will be invited to submit a full application by 19 February. Full details - including how to apply for this latest round of the fund - are now available here. 

THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW

Monday

At the start of the week, two reviews provided expert assessments of UK wage growth and the National Living Wage. The Low Pay Commission highlighted that higher wage rates were not a silver bullet where ending poverty is concerned, while the Dube Review expressed reservations about the impact of a hard and fast timeframe for increasing the NLW. Reacting to these interventions, FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry stressed that, "while it's absolutely right to tackle low pay, any increase in minimum wage rates needs to be accompanied by support for the smallest firms" - he reiterated calls for an uprating of the Employment Allowance. Responding to the comments, Arin Dube described FSB's involvement in the wage debate as "an example of a *productive dialogue* between social partners".     

Tuesday

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden revealed plans to overhaul the procurement process once the UK leaves the EU. Director of External Affairs and Advocacy Craig Beaumont discussed these plans in the Daily Telegraph, saying that "we must open up public contracts, streamline processes and make it easier for small firms to win more work."

Wednesday

Following the announcement that the deadline for an independent review of the -loan charge' is to be pushed back due to the forthcoming general election, Mike Cherry called for the complete suspension of the charge until the review has concluded & its findings thoroughly assessed.

FSB launched an LGBT+ Allies scheme for staff across the organisation to encourage equal treatment and enable staff to reach their full potential.

Thursday

New figures from the Valuation Office Agency show that the new business rates appeal platform has caused the number of firms registering a challenge to their bill to fall by 94% across England. Reacting to the latest on the Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA) system, Mike Cherry argued that "the business rates tax is a product of a bygone era. This busted flush penalises independent high street businesses to the tune of billions every year before they've made their first pound in turnover, let alone profit."

Friday

Crossrail announced today that the Elizabeth Line, which was originally set to open in winter 2018 (a date which was subsequently pushed to early 2020) will now be launched in 2021 at the earliest. Mike Cherry has described the fresh delay as a "national embarrassment."

FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

This week, Parliament was formally dissolved, officially marking the start of the general election campaign period.

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