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
The UK will leave the European Union at 11pm tonight. Once the UK leaves, it will enter a transition period until December 2020. For the duration of the transition period, you will be able to operate in exactly the same way as you do now. The way you trade and hire staff will not change.
During the transition period, the UK and EU will begin negotiating a new trade deal and other new arrangements to come into effect after the transition period ends in December 2020. Our Brexit hub will continue to provide you with information and guidance to give you an idea of what arrangements you could face in future.
A reminder (for those cutting tn fine!) that the deadline for submitting self-assessment tax returns is midnight tonight (31 January). Guidance on filing returns is available from HMRC. More here.
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.
New payment rules
UK Finance has provided in-depth guidance for businesses concerning Strong Customer Authentication - a new set of rules that will govern how consumers confirm their identity when making purchases online. SCA has been in place since September of last year and full enforcement will take effect from March 2021. All businesses that take card payments will need to be supporting 3DSecure technology from this date in order to complete transactions.
HMRC has established a free email update service to help you keep up to date with how importing and exporting with the EU will work after 31 December 2020. It is also inviting small firms to join a set of new live webinars on record-keeping, expenses and filing returns.
Latin America & Caribbean Roadshow
If you want to get the latest on the business environment and export opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean, then the Department for International Trade is running a roadshow showcasing the benefits of trade with the region. Find out more here.
Are you involved in international supply chains? The Ethical Trading Initiative is working in partnership with the Government to offer smaller firms up to 80% off training courses and consultancy packages. The ETI can support you to gain a greater understanding of human rights due diligence for businesses, identify supply chain risks and help support efforts to tackle modern slavery.
THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW
The new interim Small Business Commissioner was appointed at the start of the week. Phillip King's remit centres on tackling the late payment crisis. FSB representatives met with the new SBC later in the week to discuss priorities.
Responding to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)'s report on a future UK immigration system, Mike Cherry stressed that "the recommendation to lower the proposed minimum salary threshold to £25,600 is a welcome, pro-business proposal, which would widen the scope for employing those beyond highly-paid professions."
Head of Policy Sonali Parekh appeared on Radio 4's You and Yours to discuss the importance of accessing the rights skills to small business employers.
It was announced that Rachel Reeves has been reappointed as the chair of the influential BEIS Select Committee in the House of Commons.
Elsewhere, reacting to the news that Northern Rail will be renationalised, Mike Cherry said that "the most important thing is that vital rail services are restored to the region as soon as possible. Small firms & passengers have been forced to put up with a disgraceful level of service for far too long and this move will be a chance to revitalise the service."
It was announced yesterday that insolvencies hit a six-year high last year amid uncertainty and stagnating economic growth. FSB stressed the need for the upcoming Budget to include pro-business measures, particularly where our £2.5 billion late payment crisis is concerned. More here.
On the day that the UK is leaving the EU, Director of External Affairs Craig Beaumont appeared on BBC News to discuss what small firms are looking for from future trade agreements with the bloc and nations around the world.
FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
The Migration Advisory Committee quoted FSB's consultation response at length in its report on the Government's proposed points-based immigration system. The lead author of the report, Sir Alan Manning, embraced our recommendation to reduce the £30,000 threshold for workers looking to make the UK their home.
Caroline Lucas MP quizzed BEIS on measures it has taken to support self-employed EU, EEA, Swiss and Turkish citizens to "understand and comply with the Freedom of Establishment and Free Movement of Services (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 ahead of the 31 December 2020." There were concerns among MPs that this piece of secondary legislation could compromise EU citizens' ability to set up their own businesses in the United Kingdom. Minister Nadim Zahawi said in response that there were no such restrictions in place, nor would this change as a result of this secondary piece of the regulations.
Lord Young of Norwood Green quizzed the Government on how it could increase SME participation in the apprenticeship levy. Baroness Berridge responded that January saw the transition of "smaller employers which do not pay the levy on to our apprenticeship service, currently used by levy-paying employers."
Lord Myners asked the Government about the British Business Bank's exposure to defaults on peer-to-peer platforms.
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