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20 October 2017

Weekly Brief 43 - Friday 20 October 2017

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

Call for a Brexit-ready budget
FSB has urged the Chancellor to commit to matching EU funding allocations post-Brexit at next month’s Autumn Budget, while also protecting investment reliefs. FSB’s budget submission calls on the Government to rule out any new business tax increases and maintain investment incentives. “If the Chancellor is serious about tackling the staggering disparity in productivity between different areas of the UK, he should replace EU funding according to existing allocations,” said National Chairman Mike Cherry. The story was featured in City AM.

Business rates name and shame list published
New Government figures have revealed less than half of eligible English councils have started allocating their share of the £300 million business rates hardship fund launched six months ago. The ‘name and shame list’ shows 16 English councils have not implemented any of the three business rates relief measures announced by the Chancellor at the Spring Budget. Mike Cherry described the list as “truly shocking”, adding that seeing any less than every council having every relief measure in place is unacceptable.

Inflation hike
The business rates relief delay comes as new inflation statistics confirmed that business rates bills will increase by 3.9 per cent in April. Mike Cherry called for CPI-indexation for rates bills to be brought forward from 2020 to 2018 to help small businesses feeling the squeeze. See coverage in City AM and The Sun

Small Business Commissioner visits FSB
The new Small Business Commissioner, Paul Uppal, gave his first interview this week when he visited FSB’s Westminster Office. In the video, Paul Uppal says he wants to create a culture where “businesses are paid promptly”. Read Mike Cherry’s blog about the visit.

The office of the new Small Business Commissioner is also asking business owners for feedback on its website, which is currently being developed. The new government role champions the rights of small businesses that supply to larger businesses and offers advice and guidance for small firms chasing late payments. If you would be happy to give your views on the website in a one to one session, email the research team.

FSB Legal Hub shortlisted for award
FSB Legal Hub, the new online legal help and advice portal, has been shortlisted for The Law Society of England and Wales Excellence in Technology Award. As well as containing hundreds of resources across dozens of legal topics, the hub includes specific information on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in 2018. 

Export finance help for small firms
UK Export Finance has formed a new partnership with five high street banks in a bid to help small businesses access trade finance directly from their banks. As well as giving financial support to UK companies selling internationally, Monday’s launch also focusses on businesses that supply exporters. Mike Cherry welcomed the partnership with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS/Natwest and Santander, adding: “The success of the UK economy rests on helping more small businesses to export, and export more”.

Parliamentary Update
On Wednesday during a House of Commons debate on Taxes on Small Business, Peter Dowd MP (Lab, Bootle) quoted the FSB Small Business Index when arguing that 'small and medium-sized businesses report that operating costs have risen compared with the same period last year'. He also quoted Martin McTague, when accusing HMRC of 'going for the soft underbelly by tackling SMEs over tax avoidance and evasion rather than showing the same energy in confronting larger companies.'

Robert Courts MP (Cons, Witney), and Chair of the APPG for Small and Micro Businesses, also quoted FSB research when talking about the burden of tax administration on small business, 'it is estimated that they spend about £3,600 per year and three hours per month on administering the tax burden and complying with its obligations'.

Also on Wednesday, during a House of Commons debate on Universal Credit rollout, Debbie Abrahams MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) used FSB research to talk about the impact universal credit will have on the self-employed and that the design of the system does not allow for fluctuations of income experienced by people in self-employment. 

FSB is supporting the government’s Cyber Aware campaign, which aims to help small businesses protect themselves from cyber crime with a few simple steps. Together FSB and Cyber Aware are encouraging people to use the time it takes to download software and app updates, which contain vital security updates, to take a break from their tech. See FSB’s five #techfree15 business wellbeing hacks, or take 15 minutes to catch up on content in our FSB Wellbeing hub.

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