Forum welcomes the Enterprise Bills
The Forum today welcomed the Enterprise Bill, praising the bill for its symbolism and ambition in looking to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business.
The bill tackles two of the major issues for small firms – regulation and cashflow issues. These are seen as significant obstacles to business development by 11% and 9% of SMEs respectively, according the latest SME finance monitor report.
The establishment of a statutory Small Business Commissioner to empower small businesses to resolve issues and handle complaints from small firms who are harshly treated by large firms is welcome. This builds on the services already provided by the Institute of Credit Management and the Forum (through its “hall of shame”) but much will depend on whether the individual selected from this role can actually promote culture change in the UK.
Ian Cass, managing director of the Forum of Private Business, said:
“The key will be if the Small Business Commissioner can make a multi-national business change its payment policies with the limited sanctions at their disposal. However we welcome the fact that this issue has been recognised as a barrier for our members, after numerous years of lobbying”
The key for the Forum will be the Business Impact Target which is designed to reduce regulation by £10bn, enabling them to free up resources and boost productivity.
“Successive governments have promised deregulation and not made any positive impact – but a reduction of £10bn is extremely ambitious. It does need to be focused on support small firms as this is where regulation – often based on corporate best practice jars with small business culture.
Tax simplification – in particular combining PAYE and National Insurance contributions – would make a considerable impact as would an exemption from written risk assessments for all firms with under 20 employees and more proportionate regulatory requirements from agencies such as the Care Quality Commission (when evaluating dentists, care homes etc.) and the FCA (to head off the Pensions Crisis due next year).
More intriguing will be the duties of regulators and the inclusion of business views on how they have carried out their functions as part of their annual performance report.
Ian concluded: “HMRC and other enforcement agencies refer to businesses as their customers. A little customer satisfaction monitoring is needed and in the past our members have been confused by conflicting reports from the same agency caused by over complication of the regulatory environment. Simplification of the statute book will have an impact on enforcement agencies as it will make it easier for them.
“Simplification is a major theme for the Forum and measures such as the reform of the Business Rates Appeals System are helpful. If in doubt the Government should always err on the side of simplification.”