Weekly Brief 12 - Friday 13 March

News 13 Mar 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak credits FSB in his Budget

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.

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FSB Budget wins for members
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his Budget on Wednesday, crediting FSB in his speech.


FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said the budget should go “a long way to reinjecting optimism” back into the small business community.

Among the wins were:

Latest coronavirus advice as UK moves to ‘delay stage’
  • For those affected by coronavirus, introducing a 14-day SSP rebate for small firms with fewer than 250 employees, widening access to HMRC Time To Pay arrangements for firms struggling with cashflow issues and creating a £500million hardship fund for the vulnerable
  • Making grants of £3,000 available to 700,000 businesses that currently qualify for Small Business Rates Relief, whilst committing £130million to the British Business Bank’s Start-up Loans programme, £1.2billion worth of funding for targeted loans to smaller firms affected by the virus and £5billion worth of export finance
  • Increasing the discount on national insurance contributions that small firms can receive through the Employment Allowance from £3,000 to £4,000
  • Reforming – rather than scrapping – entrepreneurs’ relief, a reduction in capital gains tax that small business owners receive when selling their firms, by reducing the lifetime to £1million
  • Extending the Retail Discount on business rates to a wider set of small businesses and exempting those who qualify for the discount from rates entirely for one year, increasing the pubs discount to £5,000 and committing to a fundamental review of the rates system
  • Investing £2.5billion in pothole repairs, £5billion in gigabit-capable broadband, £5billion in flood defences and £1billion in zero-carbon transport initiatives while maintaining the fuel duty freeze for the tenth successive year
  • FSB has issued advice and guidance on reducing the risks of the Covid-19 virus to your business. The UK Government has now stepped up its coronavirus response, and from today (Friday) anyone with flu-like symptoms, a fever of above 37.8c or a persistent cough should self-isolate for seven days.


    For the latest Government information and the measures the Government, and Devolved Governments, are taking, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website.
    The total number of confirmed cases in the UK has reached over 600, but the actual total is estimated to be a lot higher.

    FSB’s guidance includes information about business insurance, FSB’s own health and medical service and why you need a business continuity plan. 

    If your business has been affected by coronavirus and you would be happy to share your story with the media, please contact us. We’re particularly interested in hearing about the impact the spread of the virus is having on importers and exporters. 

    Volunteering opportunities for children and young people

    Do you want to help children and young people understand the wealth of opportunities working in small businesses has, and the career pathways to get there? Can you spare any time volunteering? The #InspiringTheFuture programme enables volunteers to register online and connect directly to schools to participate in career related learning activities. See here for more.

    Apprenticeship league table

    The Education and Skills Funding Agency has launched a new league table of top apprenticeship employers, which will rate the top 50 small and medium enterprises who employ a minimum of five apprentices in England. Entries close on Thursday 9 April and to enter, click here.

    The small biz week in review


    The week began with the Government announcing its plans to improve 4G coverage by signing a new deal with network operators to create a significant improvement to signal.

    As International Women’s Day 2020 drew to a close the day before, FSB celebrated with videos of inspirational, female small business owners. Meet Sophie Carr, a statistical analysist and the founder of Baystastic, who explained how her career was inspired by a love of Lego and aeroplanes.


    FSB released its asks to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, including urgently delivering manifesto commitments to increase the Employment Allowance, Reduce Business rates and reform, rather than scrap, entrepreneurs’ relief.

    Tuesday also saw the Bank of England’s (BoE) cut its emergency interest rate and release a new stimulus package in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This news was welcomed by FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry, who said: “This will hopefully throw a lifeline to firms suffering from cashflow issues” and reported by City AM. 


    Wednesday saw the Chancellor unveil his 2020 pro-small business Spring budget, which included cutting business rates and job tax. Mike Cherry said: “The measures he’s put forward, coupled with those unveiled by the Bank of England, should go a long way to reinjecting optimism back into the small business community after years of uncertainty.” Reaction, as well as a statement issued by FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry, was covered by The Times, The Telegraph, BBC News, and others, as well as a number of broadcast outlets. 


    Thursday saw the national media continue to cover reaction to Wednesday’s Budget. The Financial Times reported on how the “bold” budget saw the Chancellor come through for businesses, with Mike Cherry saying he hoped it was the “start of things to come.&rdquo Elsewhere, Huffington Post published a piece revealing how shop owners are coping with coronavirus and how they are helping their own communities, quoting Mike Cherry as praising Wednesday’s Budget, which will go some way to helping those affected.  


    At the end of the week, supermarket chain Morrisons announced it would be paying small suppliers immediately. The move will help suppliers get through difficulties caused by the spread of coronavirus amid uncertainty. BBC News quoted Mike Cherry calling the news: “heartening and very welcome.”

    From the corridors of power

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, spoke about FSB during the budget, the only business organisation named.  The budget delivered on numerous FSB policy priorities for both the long-term and the short-term efforts to cope with coronavirus interruptions.  These include the £1000 reduction in employers national  insurance, the extension of the retail discount to cut business rates to 100% and extension to both the tourism and hospitality sectors, £3,000 in support for those already in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief, faster access to universal credit and the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor for self-employed people in receipt of universal credit affected by coronavirus, protection for small businesses from attempts to scrap entrepreneurs relief, a national insurance holiday for firms employing veterans, and delivery of infrastructure asks on broadband, flood defences and pothole repairs. Jesse Norman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, also spoke about FSB in the Budget debate. 


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