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
Department for Trade consultation
FSB will be responding to the Department for Trade's ongoing consultation on the UK Global Tarrif, which closes on 5 March 2020.
Proposed changes include the removal of tariffs that are 2.5% or less (nuisance tariffs) and the adoption of the New Zealand style model of banding tariffs into specific boundaries (ie. a 5%-10% tariff band). We are seeking case studies from members on the impact of tariffs or lack of tariffs on their business and the wider sector in which they operate.
We would like to emphasise sectoral differences where possible and welcome industry-specific examples, for instance the impact of increased/ removed tariffs on ceramics, textiles and argi-food products and how this might pose a challenge to those industries. Get in touch with Damilola.
Digital Apprenticeship Service
If you employ an apprentice or would like to employ one, you can now set up an account on the digital Apprenticeship Service. To find out more about the Service and how to register, please click here.
Share your experience with the Rail Delivery Group
Have you been frustrated by confusing or inflexible rail fares? Have you lost business or had to forego meetings because of it? If so, and you'd potentially be happy to share your experience with the media, the Rail Delivery Group is keen to hear from you ASAP. Please email [email protected]
Life outside the Customs Union: evening discussion in Birmingham
Are you an exporter or importer interested in the UK's future border and customs arrangements? FSB's friends at the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce are organising an evening discussion and networking event in Birmingham on 27 February, 6-8pm. The evening will include a keynote from Stephen F Tracey, CEO, CustomsMatters, followed by a senior panel discussion on how to reduce border and customs friction through the application of enhanced technology, trade processes and trust. For more information and registration please click here.
HMRC Employer Bulletin
HMRC has published its latest employer's bulletin which gives employers and agents the latest information on topics and issues that may affect them. The latest edition includes information on off-payroll working rules, the latest National Insurance contributions and Statutory Payments rates.
THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW
In the wake of Storm Ciara which resulted in widespread flooding and damage across parts of the UK, take a look at some of the flood insurance options that are available for small firms.
The Office for National Statistics revealed that the UK's GDP for Q4 in 2019 was flat at 0.0%. FSB's National Chair Mike Cherry said that "small firms right across the country will be looking to the upcoming Budget as a chance to turn things around and create a pro-business environment that encourages growth and success."
The Government gave the green light for HS2 to go ahead. The major infrastructure project will link up London to Birmingham with a second phase going to Manchester and Leeds. Mike Cherry welcomed the announcement saying that "this is a crucial infrastructure project which will bring economic benefits both during its construction, and in the capacity and productivity improvements it will create once it's operational." Read more of FSB's views on this in The Times and The Telegraph.
The new Small Business Commissioner used his naming and shaming powers to highlight the late payments of the manufacturer, Bombardier. In The Times, Mike Cherry said that "Bombardier must change course, and other big businesses using their dominant position to bully small suppliers must realise they are on borrowed time. Nobody deserves to be treated like this." Mike Cherry spoke at length about the late payments crisis here.
FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
The Prime Minister conducted his Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday which saw the unexpected resignation of Sajid Javid as Chancellor of the Exchequer, with Rishi Sunak (former Chief Sec to the Treasury) entering Number 11. The Budget date remains 11 March, but we will update if anything changes.
Among a number of changes, Alok Sharma has replaced Andrea Leadsom as BEIS Secretary, George Eustice has replaced Theresa Villiers as DEFRA Secretary. Stephen Barclay, former Brexit Secretary, is the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Paul Scully has also become the new Small Business Minister, with Kelly Tolhurst moving to the Department for Transport.
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