FSB Newsletter - Friday 17 June 2022

News 17 Jun 2022


Base rate increase and stagflation fears
The Bank of England raised the base rate to 1.25% on Thursday (16 Jun), amid high inflation and following disappointing GDP figures on Monday. FSB Policy and Advocacy Chair Tina McKenzie said: "This latest rise illustrates something every small business owner will be acutely aware of: rising costs are running out of control, and the operating environment for small firms is tougher than it has been for some time." FSB is calling for a VAT cut, help with energy bills, action to tackle late payment, and more, in response to the pressures small businesses are facing.

NI Protocol Bill
The UK Government has published draft legislation to amend the Northern Ireland Protocol. Head of FSB NI, Roger Pollen, said he is "hopeful that a resolution to the dispute between the EU and UK Government can be secured in order to help the significant minority of small businesses that are struggling with aspects of the Protocol".

Consumer Credit Act to be reformed
The Government has said it will reform the Consumer Credit Act, in order to cut costs for businesses, among other aims. A consultation is due later this year. The intention is to move much of the Act's provisions from the statute book to the Financial Conduct Authority's purview, to allow, the Government said, for more responsive and rapid actions to developments in consumer credit, and to cut compliance costs for businesses.

Rail strikes next week
Businesses are being advised to prepare for the industrial action taking place across the railway network next week. Network Rail has more information about amended timetables, with services only due to run between 7.30am and 6.30pm on strike days.

Improve your energy efficiency
FSB has pulled together ways for small businesses to become more energy-efficient, cutting bills and helping reduce emissions at the same time. Read our post here.

Fuel retail rapid review
The Competition and Markets Authority has been tasked by the Business Secretary with delivering a rapid review of the fuel retail market, with an initial report due on 7 July. Kwasi Kwarteng MP said the review was needed in light of "widespread concern about the pace of the increase in prices at the forecourt" in his letter to the CMA.

Plug pulled on EV grant
The Government has closed the plug-in car grant scheme, a move which the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said "sends the wrong message to motorists and to an industry which remains committed to Government's net zero ambition".

Bank services to be protected
The Financial Conduct Authority is proposing to make banks assess the impact of any changes to their services, such as reduced opening hours, according to new draft guidance. The FCA is also "consulting on requirements for more detailed analysis on how firms assess the impact on customers when they plan to close a branch, remove or convert an ATM or reduce the services they provide". The most recent access to cash figures, for Q4 2021, show that while the proportion of the population within 2km/5km of a cash access point had not changed, 82 bank branches closed between Q3 and Q4.

Customs platform switch
If your business buys or sells good abroad, you need to plan your move to the UK's new customs IT platform, the Customs Declaration Service, whether or not you make your own declarations or use a specialist, like a customs agent or express operator. The CDS will replace the old Customs Handling Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), which will close for import declarations on 30 September. HMRC has prepared a checklist to help you move across here.

Help to Grow: Management scheme widened
Businesses with 10 or more employees will be able to have two staff members participate in the Help to Grow: Management scheme; previously, they could only send one. Businesses with 5-9 employees can only send one participant, while those employing under five people are unable to access the scheme.

Food strategy published
The Government's food strategy has been published, setting out how the Government plans to secure the UK's food supply and support the agri-food and seafood sector.

Calling young innovators
The Young Innovators Awards 2022/23 are now open, and offer people aged 18-30 a grant of £5,000 plus a living allowance.

Fast Start: Innovation grants
Innovate UK is launching new Fast Start: Innovation grants of up to £50,000 each for UK-based small and micro-businesses which operate in: advanced materials and manufacturing; artificial intelligence, digital and advanced computing; bioinformatics and genomics; engineering biology; electronics, photonics and quantum; energy and environment technologies; or robotics and smart machines. Innovate UK is also offering loans of between £100,000 and £2 million to businesses for "innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy".

Employer update
HMRC's Employer Bulletin for June 2022 can be found here.

Loneliness Awareness Week
As Loneliness Awareness Week comes to an end, Acas is highlighting its resources around mental health in the workplace, while FSB's Wellbeing hub has a range of articles and guides on mental health issues, including an article on dealing with loneliness as a small business owner.

FSB webinars
Next week we're holding free webinars on getting it right with image copyright (22 Jun), how to make your business more accessible (23 Jun), and understanding and reducing your carbon footprint (24 Jun). And don't forget to send in your questions for Professor Chris Whitty ahead of his Q&A with us on 27 June.


- Our Sustainability Hub has everything you need to help you on your journey to net zero.

- If you are a UK business which trades with Europe, keep track of the latest changes and developments via FSB's Transition Hub.

- Our #BusinessWithoutBarriers hub on disability and health conditions has free guidance and resources to help small businesses make their workplaces more inclusive, and to help disabled entrepreneurs identify opportunities and support.


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