Mike Cherry, FSB National Chair, said: “It’s good to see a new focus on improving skills like numeracy and literacy. These are the skills that people need to be equipped with to be successful in today's tough jobs market, and we know those furthest from work often struggle with maths. It’s crucial that at every age people have the opportunity to pick up new skills that they might not have learned in school.
“Many businesses are currently struggling to fill vacancies in sectors like hospitality and this will help by expanding the potential pool of those eligible. After being equipped with these vital skills, we know small employers are excellent at providing local opportunities and further upskilling.
“With funding being distributed through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), it’s critical that small firms are at the front and centre of this, with a specific focus on businesses based in areas that need levelling up. Policymakers must realise the ambition of business owners in these areas. Providing the right support here will really ramp up productivity. It’s important that each part of the UK at least maintains previous levels of business support funding under the UKSPF when further details are announced.
“It’s critical this sits alongside measures to boost small firms ability to recover and employ. Expanding the Small Business Rates Relief to a rateable value of £25,000, removing hundreds of thousands of small firms from the scope of this tax, would make a huge difference to small firms in these regions, along with increasing the Employment Allowance, saving small businesses £5,000 rather than £4,000 on their annual jobs tax bills, and help them invest in their staff themselves.”