FSB Weekly Brief Newsletter – Friday 21 July 2023

News 21 Jul 2023

All the week's latest small business news.

Fall in inflation could mark a turning point for small firms

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell to 7.9 per cent this week, with core inflation also falling to 6.9 per cent in the 12 months to June 2023, FSB National Chair Martin McTague highlighted how the reduction in inflation will offer small firms a little breathing space after months of rising costs. He added: “Small firms are finding their prospects for growth increasingly hemmed in by the withering away of cost-effective finance deals, and many are feeling exhausted by the toll exacted by the cost of doing business crisis.” Inflation is still higher than the Bank of England’s target rate and another decision on whether to increase the base rate will take place next month.

Rise in retail sales
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals a promising uptick in retail sales. Volumes surged by 0.7% in June alone and experienced a steady increase of 0.4% in sales over the second quarter of the year. FSB Policy & Advocacy Chair Tina McKenziesaid these figures prove that our traditional high street still "holds its own" in the business arena, but that there are huge roads ahead for high street stores wrestling with business rates, VAT and late payments.

Trimmed-down approach to Apprenticeships welcomed by employers

FSB welcomed the Department for Education’s (DfE) new plan to create a digital skills platform that will simplify bureaucracy for small employers hiring apprentices. FSB has campaigned for a reduction in administrative hurdles. FSB’s Chief of External Affairs Craig Beaumont said: “The Government's new digital platform should really help, simplifying the process and fostering talent across our economy for people to find apprenticeships, T Levels, and skills bootcamps that our members say are valuable.”

Small firms call for changes to Digital Markets Bill

FSB is calling on the Government to halt plans set out by the Digital Markets Bill, which would allow consumers to cancel their subscriptions by any means. FSB Policy and Advocacy Chair Tina McKenzie told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours: “How is a small business meant to maintain and regulate that if they only have a few staff?”

Trade: UK signs CPTPP free trade agreement

The UK became an official signatory of the Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) this week. This will benefit small international traders. The news was followed by the Government’s announcement that the UK had begun negotiations with Turkey, working towards a new, modernised free trade agreement between the two countries.

Improving the UK’s start-up strategy

FSB's Policy Champion for Self-Employment and Start-Ups, Lina Bourdon, spoke at the Westminster Business Forum’s policy conference on start-ups this week. Topics discussed included the UK's start-up strategy, and how to effectively break down entry barriers for entrepreneurs and ensure that access to finance is available to support start-up growth.

How our high streets are transforming and why SMEs are central to that
From new innovative business models to mixed-use buildings, the UK’s high streets are on the cusp of transformation. How can we as a United Kingdom harness this sea-change to better small business, our economies and our communities? This is one of the insightful topics explored in a brand new small business podcast, released this week. In it, FSB explain why small businesses should take part in the survey before 27 July. The survey is at https://www.fsbbigvoice.co.uk/FSBHighStreetsSurvey .

New resources to make sure your business is data protection compliant

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has published a series of short, accessible videos, designed to help your small business stay up to date with data management. The videos cover a range of topics, from data protection for direct marketing to cyber security for small firms.

Does your business import goods temporarily to the UK?

HMRC and the Treasury are asking for small business owners who temporarily import goods into the UK to take part in a consultation, which ends on 22 September. For further details, email HMRC