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27 October 2017

Weekly Brief 44 - Friday 27 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.  
Success of Industrial Strategy hinges on infrastructure
The Chancellor must deliver promised improvements to digital and road connectivity while removing barriers for small housebuilders at his Autumn Budget next month. As part of its Budget submission, FSB called on Government to put forward a series of recommendations aimed at boosting output among smaller housebuilders in England, as well as deciding on how the UK-wide Universal Service Obligation, designed to give everyone access to broadband by 2020, will be implemented.

Compensation is key for RBS GRG victims
The publication of the Financial Conduct Authority's interim summary report on the treatment of smaller businesses by Royal Bank of Scotland's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) this week, was described as a "step forward" by National Chairman Mike Cherry. He said the full report should be released in the future to show how the "systematic" failure happened and who was responsible, but emphasised the most important thing now is that GRG victims receive the compensation they are due.

Caution urged ahead of interest rate decision
Ahead of the Bank of England's November interest rates decision next Thursday, Mike Cherry stressed that business owners must understand what a rise would mean for them. "If their mortgage, personal loan and car leasing payments start to creep up, that'll have a very direct impact on their ability to invest for growth and create jobs," he warned, adding that although a rate rise was inevitable, it's critical it's done at a pace that small businesses can manage.

Council parking regimes stifle small business community
Local authorities could do more to boost growth by taking a more generous approach to parking around local high streets. Reacting to new figures from the RAC Foundation that show eight million local authority parking penalties are issued annually across England and Wales, Mike Cherry said introducing schemes like short-stay free parking can prove a "shot in the arm" for town centres. 

Mental health in the workplace 
The Government's 'Thriving at Work' review was released this week, looking at how investing in mental health support is good for business - with many of the standards outlined reflective of initiatives advocated by FSB's wellbeing campaign. Reacting to the report, Mike Cherry said there was a "collective responsibility" shared by Government, business owners and individuals to work together to destigmatise mental health and create an open environment in the workplace. FSB's Louise Stewart appeared on BBC news channel speaking on the subject.

Parliamentary updates 
On Tuesday, during the Fifth Sitting of the Finance Bill Committee in the House of Commons, Stella Creasy (Lab, Walthamstow) quoted FSB research when talking about how VAT will work after we leave the EU, arguing that 63% of members of the Federation of Small Businesses have said that Europe is their priority market. 

On Wednesday, during a debate on the Finance Bill FSB was mentioned by both Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, in relation to quarterly tax reporting and export markets, respectively.  

Ombudsman pushes on with PPI campaign 
As part of its campaign to raise awareness about personal protection insurance (PPI), the Financial Ombudsman has published a series of articles outlining what PPI is and who may have been mis-sold a PPI product. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) estimates that 64 million PPI policies were sold between 1990 and 2010, with a significant proportion of those policies mis-sold or unknowingly purchased. You have until August 2019 to make a PPI claim.  

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