Weekly Brief 3 - Friday 17 January 2020

News 17 Jan 2020

A wrap of the week's small business news from FSB's Westminster Press, Policy and Public Affairs Office.

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

Guidance on email phishing scams

FSB has been made aware of a spam emails being sent to people which appear to be an invoice from FSB. The emails are not sent by FSB. Unfortunately, that means we have no control over them. We have, however published some guidance on our website which you can point people towards if they have received an email of if they are concerned.

Two weeks until self-assessment deadline

A reminder that the self-assessment deadline is fast approaching on the 31 January. According to HMRC, there remains more than five million taxpayers who are yet to complete their self-assessment returns before the deadline. Find out more about it from HMRC.

Mental health guidance

When poor mental health affects you, or your colleagues, it can be tricky to know what to do or where to turn. Mental Health at Work brings together the best resources to support and inspire you - whatever your business - to make positive changes around mental health. Small organisations face unique challenges in this space, and the charity Mind has created a toolkit designed specifically for smaller firms where you'll find quick, free e-learning tools as well as some extra resources to help you start making a difference.

Fresh IR35 factsheet

From April, rules governing -off-payroll' working are changing: medium and large organisations in all sectors of the economy will become responsible for assessing an individual's employment status and determining whether IR35 rules apply. Ahead of the change, HMRC has published a new factsheet outlining the changes and what they'll mean for contractors.

Digital Apprenticeship Service

Smaller employers in England can now register to access the digital apprenticeship service. The service will allow employers to recruit apprentices, find training providers and reserve funds for training. It is in an initial test phase until March -  employers who register may be given the opportunity to provide feedback. 

THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW

Monday

The start of the week marked the second anniversary of the introduction of Open Banking. New figures from FSB reveal that fewer than one in seven (15%) small firms are currently sharing their business bank account data electronically with third parties, meaning that very few small firms are reaping the benefits of the legislation. FSB National Chair Mike Cherry appeared on Jazz FM to discuss the latest findings.

Tuesday

New statistics found that GDP rose by 0.1% in the three months to November, but the month of November itself saw a sharp 0.3% drop. Mike Cherry said that the figures reiterated "what we've found in our latest Small Business Index, in that small business confidence is down and, after years of uncertainty, we aren't out of the woods yet."

Wednesday

Marked National Pothole Day, highlighting the problems with roads and infrastructure across England. FSB's own findings show that, across England, 700,000 potholes were reported in 2018/19, covering around 28km, the equivalent height of 292 Big Bens. FSB urged the Government to deliver its manifesto pledge to provide £2 billion of funding for road improvements. Read more in the Telegraph.

And on the BBC News website, Mike Cherry discussed the benefits of flexible working, especially if someone is unwell. He said that, for many small firms, "in situations where a member of staff is feeling under the weather - but still well enough to get stuff done - it can be more straightforward to arrange a day working from home" than it would be in a large corporation. 

Thursday

Responding to new figures from the BBC local data Unit showing that £1 billion in empty premises business rates relief is applied in England and Wales each year, Mike Cherry said that "Local authorities are set to rake in £25 billion from business rates this year, a figure which has grown substantially of late, and is set to keep growing." His intervention was covered by TALKRadio, LBC and Wave 105.  

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JOIN BIG VOICE AND MAKE YOUR BUSINESS HEARD

Big Voice is FSB's unique online research community and it's free for members to join. By responding to one of our surveys, members give us the evidence we need to engage with politicians around the world on the subjects that matter to you. Join for free to make sure your voice is heard.

SHARE WB WITH A FRIEND

Subscription to Weekly Brief is only available through the FSB website - please share this link with new subscribers.