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04 October 2019

Weekly Brief 40 - Friday 4 October 2019

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

Brexit Hub

The terms of the UK's exit from the European Union remain unclear with a no-deal on 31 October remaining a possibility. To support small firms and the self-employed to prepare for this scenario, FSB has launched a new information hub which is designed to provide you with practical information to help you plan and prepare. All of the information on the hub is based on information provided by the UK Government and the European Union. You can find out more by visiting our no-deal information hub.

Workplace guidance after Brexit

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has published fresh guidance on workplace changes that could arise due to Brexit. If you employ EU citizens, Acas recommends you talk to them about their plans for applying for settled or pre-settled status, you can find out more here. Further advice on this topic can be found using the Government's Brexit Checker.

Business Basics Fund

The third round of the Business Basics Fund is now open for Expressions of Interest (EoI). The fund provides resources for trials which build evidence around how best to encourage smaller businesses to adopt productivity-boosting technology and management practices. Full information and how to apply can be found here.

THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW

Monday

During his keynote speech at this year's Conservative Party Conference, the Chancellor Sajid Javid announced that the National Living Wage will rise to £10.50 from £8.21 by 2024, and the age threshold for eligibility will be lowered from 25 to 21. FSB warned that this increase would pose a real challenge to a lot of small firms.

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry appeared on BBC News to discuss the announcement and you can read more of his thoughts in the Telegraph. Director of External Affairs and Advocacy Craig Beaumont also featured on BBC Radio 5 Live discussing the subject, and Director of Communications Louise Stewart appeared on Radio 4.

Tuesday

FSB hosted its flagship Conservative Party Conference panel event with ConservativeHome. FSB's Policy and Advocacy Chair Martin McTague was joined by BEIS Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom to discuss the issues facing small firms.

Wednesday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tabled fresh EU withdrawal proposals, outlining his plan for replacing the so-called -backstop' mechanism with alternative arrangements. Mike Cherry appeared on BBC News to discussed the development following his reaction to the Prime Minister's Conference speech earlier in the day. 

Elsewhere, the FSB Chair reflected on conference season in an op-ed for the Times' Red Box.

Thursday

The Irish border debate continued on Thursday, with Head of External Affairs in NI Roger Pollen appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss what small firms near the Irish border want from a Brexit deal. 

Friday

We have today launched the latest findings from our Small Business Index research - many thanks to all of those that took the time to fill out the latest survey. 

The headline SBI confidence measure stands at -8.1 in Q3 2019, down more than six points compared to the same period last year. This marks a fifth consecutive negative reading - a first in the index's history. The news was covered by the BBC, Sky, Mail Online, Times and City AM. 

FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Conservative Party Conference

Highlights from the various panel events and roundtables taking place at conference included Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak speaking about the need to reform business rates.

Housing Minister Esther McVey also flagged the need to reform the planning system to support small businesses in the construction sector. 

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