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.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Department for Trade consultation
FSB will be responding to the Department for Trade's ongoing consultation on the UK Global Tariff, which closes on 5 March 2020, and we need your input. Proposed changes include the removal of tariffs that are 2.5% or less (nuisance tariffs) and the adoption of a New Zealand-style model of banding tariffs. If you would be impacted by such changes - for example the alteration of tariffs on ceramics, textiles, and agri-food products - please get in touch with Damilola.
LATEST ADVICE & OPPORTUNITIES
New financial redress service
FSB has been participating in the steering group for the new Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) - a non-profit organisation established to resolve disputes between smaller firms and participating banks. The BBRS is in part designed for businesses that are too big to use the Financial Ombudsman Service but don't necessarily have the capacity to take on a legal case. You can register your interest in using the service on the BBRS website.
THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW
At the start of the week, FSB published its latest SBI for Q4 2019. The research finds that four in ten (37%) small businesses that made successful finance applications last quarter used the sums raised to manage cashflow rather than invest in their firms. FSB National Chair Mike Cherry said that if "this Government wants to leave a lasting legacy amongst small businesses, it has to make ending the UK's late payment crisis a top priority." Read more about the findings in The Times..
In the wake of fresh flooding following Storm Dennis, the Government announced that flood-hit businesses will be able to claim business recovery grants of up to £2,500 and 100 per cent business rates relief for three months. They'll also be eligible for up to £5,000 to make their businesses more flood-resilient in the future. If you've been affected by flooding, find out how to access the funds here.
New Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the Budget will go ahead as planned on March 11. Mike Cherry told the Financial Times that the Government must use this as an opportunity to arrest the current "productivity slump" and better support smaller firms.
The Home Office launched proposals for a new Australia-style points-based immigration system which will take effect from 1 January 2021, mapping out the new points criteria that those moving to the UK will be assessed by when applying for a visa in future. A minimum salary threshold of £25,600 will apply to those with job offers - applicants will also need to be proficient in English.
Mike Cherry appeared on TalkRadio to discuss the proposals, stressing the importance of protecting the ability of small firms to access the skills they need to thrive. He also said: "There are many jobs in the care and construction sectors that may not meet skill requirements but are essential to our economy and society." Read FSB's full response to the Home Office proposals here. FSB's reaction was widely covered, including in the Express, Telegraph, Independent and PoliticsHome.
Amid widespread flooding across parts of the UK, Mike Cherry appeared on BBC News to talk about the impact that flooding has been having on small businesses across the country.
Meanwhile, Alan Soady, FSB's head of media, spoke to Channel 5 News about how small businesses with supply chain and business links with China are being affected by coronavirus.
The new polymer £20 note featuring artist JMW Turner went into general circulation on Thursday. It's been called the "most secure banknote yet", with two windows and a two-colour foil to thwart fraudsters, as well as a "tactile feature" for visually impaired people. Mike Cherry said that "the introduction of this new £20 note is a great step to cutting down on fraud which is a thorn in the side of small firms." Read more of Mike's thoughts on the new note on the BBC news website.
For a feel-good story this week, read about how a teenage apprentice went above and beyond to save a couple's Valentine's Day travel plans. When FSB Advisor Piyush Patel and his wife had to cancel their romantic trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights due to storms, BA customer service agent Daniel Thompson stepped in to save the day by rebooking them on a flight to New York, organising visas and a hotel. Piyush's post about the experience on LinkedIn went viral, securing more than 70,000 likes, and Daniel is now in-line for a private meeting with the BA CEO.
FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWERS
Parliament has been in recess this week and will return on Monday.
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