AN SME PROGRAMME TO KEEP PARLIAMENT BUSY

The Forum of Private Business has released a manifesto outlining what the next government should do to support small businesses…

 

IN THE FIRST QUEEN’S SPEECH…

Announce plans to create a code or regulator to oversee the relationship between suppliers and retailers in the UK

It is time for government to denounce the over-reliance of larger retailers on cash flow support from their supply chains, leading to damaging demands, lengthy payment terms and late payment to small businesses

Amend current legislation to faithfully transpose the EU Directive on late payment

With £46bn tied up in late payment, the EU has provided the tools to challenge poor practice but requires government to transpose ‘grossly unfair’ terms into UK law

Remove the Health and Safety Executive’s Fee for Intervention policy. The policy is damaging the relationship between businesses and HSE regulators, and there are fears other regulators could adopt a similar policies

Address how high speed broadband can be rolled out to ensure all businesses have access

Many rural businesses are potential exporters but need the support tools

 

BY MID-TERM…

Run a pilot of shared bank branches and Inter Bank Agency Agreements

Bank branches continue to decline making them an increasing barrier to new banks starting up. Banks should have a universal obligation to provide counter services to customers that require it

Ensure HMRC is well resourced to carry out its functions fairly

Small businesses feel that HMRC targets them as easier ‘wins’ whilst allowing much larger organisations to escape paying Corporation Tax in the UK, allowing them to be much more competitive

Ensure the Low Pay Commission gives a two year National Minimum Wage recommendation to government

With many small businesses entering auto-enrolment, government must be wary of further, sizeable regulations that increase costs on small businesses. Extending the future forecasts to two years allows some longer term planning for businesses

Implement the recommendations of the Airports Commission

The UK can no longer put off controversial infrastructure decisions for political reasons

 

IN THE FIRST BUDGET…

Freeze business rates in year one and cap at 2% for the remainder of the Parliament, make Small Business Rate Relief permanent and automatic, and carry out an immediate rating assessment with a promise not to increase rates as a consequence

Remove the VAT element charged on fuel duty contribution to pump price

 

BY THE END OF PARLIAMENT…

Ensure that the provision in the Small Business Act, requiring the public sector to adopt e-invoicing, is implemented with an assurance that it remains free for small businesses

E-invoicing has the potential to save businesses and government billions of pounds, allowing it to subsidise the cost of implementing it

Commit to reviewing employment law legislation only once during the duration of a parliament

The constant flux of employment law is damaging for small businesses, who often have to adapt to several changes in a short space of time. The next government should set the precedent of only regulating once in any one area of employment law during the course of a fixed-term parliament Consider excluding small businesses from business rates altogether

Review links between employer taxes and raising wages, and the taxation of employee benefits

Government can do a better job of incentivising businesses to raise wages if it acknowledges and returns the increase in NICs and other taxes such wage rises incur

Establish an export tax credit that supports investment in new export markets

Working along the lines of R&D investment this would support export investment by off-setting it against Corporation Tax

 

IN ADDITION, A NEW GOVERNMENT SHOULD:

Implement the findings of the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into SME banking

Set up an advisory board for the Prompt Payment Code and put in place a more robust monitoring structure to ensure companies are worthy of signing it

Ensure HMRC is not allowed to directly debit bank accounts of small businesses

Review the level of personal contribution by individuals towards tribunals but maintain a principle of financial contribution, allowing justice but preventing spurious claims

Include EU regulations in all regulatory impact costs imposed by government Extend the law that covers protection of residential property owners against squatters to commercial properties

Consider a permanent relaxation of RTI for small businesses

Introduce no new environment taxes that would raise bills for small businesses given the rollout of smart meters over the next parliament

Ensure employer routed funding of apprenticeships is working and fair to small business

Reintroduce mandatory work experience in schools, removed in 2011.

 

 

 

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