- Positive proposals on issues including business rates, the Jobs Tax, skills, childcare and crime
- A welcome review of support for the self-employed should start on Day One of a Conservative administration
- 2bn pledge to fix potholes follows FSB research exposing the scale of England’s pothole problem
Responding to the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Mike Cherry said:
“Today’s Conservative Party manifesto recognises the importance of the UK’s 5.8 million small businesses and the self-employed to the economy, innovation, jobs and communities. It sets out a clear ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.
“It is right that in seeking to form the next government the Conservative Party has given clear pledges to support small businesses and the self-employed. Cuts to the Jobs Tax and Business Rates are strong pro-small business pledges. Small businesses will welcome these commitments as well as the commitment not to raise National Insurance for the self-employed and to clamp down on late payment.
“There are also, rightly, positive-sounding proposals to help women and ethnic minority entrepreneurs, to help on skills, to improve childcare funding, combat crime and deliver better infrastructure – including listening to FSB’s calls for greater investment in fixing potholes. These are all areas on which we championed action in our ‘Back to Business’ manifesto.
“It is very positive that the Conservatives have explicitly set out an intent to help the self-employed, including when it comes to accessing mortgages. Both this review, and the review into how Business Rates are cut, should begin on day one if the Conservatives form the next government, to ensure they result in swift action.
“Entrepreneurs’ Relief serves an important purpose and is a large part of how many small business owners will plan for their retirement – we would urge that any reform of Entrepreneurs’ Relief is carefully considered and the consequences properly thought-through.
“There is a need to find a way through the Brexit impasse and provide small businesses with certainty so they can plan, invest, hire and grow. If a deal is ratified, there must be a sensible and realistic period of time for small businesses to prepare for our eventual relationship with the EU.”
“Cutting the Jobs Tax and Business Rates are strong, pro-small business measures. FSB advocated for these in our own ‘Back to Business’ manifesto and small businesses will welcome this.
“Rising employment costs act as a deterrent to hiring more employees, and so offsetting that for small firms with a rise in the Employment Allowance to cut the jobs tax would be a very good step.
“A pledge to extend Business Rates relief for most small businesses on the high street is a fair and sensible proposal which will support jobs, communities and the small firms which are at their heart. We look forward to contributing to the review by an incoming Conservative government of how to reform the system longer-term, and that review should begin straight away.
“We will also engage with the Conservatives if they form the next Government on the best way forward with Entrepreneurs’ Relief which serves an important purpose.
“It is very pleasing to see that FSB’s call for a reduction in National Insurance contributions for employers who hire military service leavers. As FSB highlighted in its recent report ‘A Force For Business,’ those leaving military service have many valuable skills yet can find themselves struggling to find employment. Small businesses can help with this, and reducing the cost of employing those who have served in the armed forces would be a very positive move.”
Retraining / Skills
“Adult retraining is essential to ensure no one is left behind as we embrace new technological change at an unprecedented rate. The Conservative pledge to provide extra funding for retraining is a positive step, allowing existing workers to expand their skills, especially digital skills.
“For younger people, FSB has long called for measures to fix the apprenticeship funding system, as well as ensuring small businesses in England can offer high-quality T-level placements. There should also be direct support for small business employers which provide work placements, and we would be keen to make sure the funding pledged today reaches small firms.”
“The cost of providing childcare in many areas outstrips current funding, affecting both small business childcare providers and parents who work for small businesses who struggle to find affordable childcare. Increasing funding to ensure the childcare sector can deliver 30 hours free childcare per week would be the right decision in the interests of families, employers, childcare providers and the economy as a whole.
“Childcare providers in England could also be supported by being given 100 per cent business rates relief, mirroring what already happens in Scotland and Wales.”
“A focus on reducing crime is welcome, and this must include a focus on tackling business crime, which has been woefully neglected in recent years. Whether it is theft, violence, vandalism or cyber crime, offences against small businesses wreck livelihoods and ruin lives.”
FSB research has found that business crime costs the small business community more than £15 billion a year. 50 per cent of small businesses have been a victim of crime in the last two years.
“An extra 20,000 police officers is certainly a step in the right direction, although would still leave the country with fewer officers per 100,000 of population than the European average. A proposed review of the governance and accountability of Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales could include looking at benchmarks for prioritising business crime.”
“Clamping down on late payment is welcome. This should include holding Boards accountable for poor payment by making the audit committee of every large business responsible for payment practices and banning late payers from all public sector procurement, as well as empowering the Small Business Commissioner.”
“FSB has consistently called for greater investment in fixing potholes and improving local road networks, and so this commitment from the Conservatives is very welcome. Damage to business vehicles costs money and time, leaving firms unable to get around or transport goods while a vehicle is off the road.”
Local authorities receive a pothole complaint every 46 seconds, according to Freedom of Information figures gathered by FSB.
The research found there were 700,000 reported potholes in England over the last year. Combines, that adds up to a 28km hole – almost 15 times deeper than the deepest point of the Grand Canyon.
In total, almost £1billion has been spent fixing damaged roads and holes in 2018/19.
More than £1.9million has been paid out in compensation to claimants that had their vehicles damaged last year. The figures revealed that fewer than a quarter (24 per cent) of claims for vehicle damage were successful, with the average pay out per claim equating to £257.