The Forum on the 27th June 2016 emailed George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business and Anna Soubry, Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise with a ten point plan to help grow the economy.
Forum Managing Director Ian Cass wrote:
“On behalf of our members, The Forum would like to see some clear action from our leaders. If we see Brexit as an opportunity then small businesses can contribute massively to a bright future for the UK. We just need a bit of help, and would like to see the following 10 ideas put into practice”:-
1. Clear direction and confidence
Let’s see a clear and decisive statement from the government saying who is in charge and what the government intend to do from now until a new leader is in place. We need to know exactly what they are doing and who is doing it; we need to see a plan and a strong united team working on it.
If there are various ways of exiting the EU then lets lay them out in a clear and understandable manner and keep people informed about the aims, objectives and progress of the negotiations against these objectives. The politicians on all sides made a mess of clearly communicating the issues, opportunities and potential impact before the referendum, let’s see if they can do a little better in the “Brexit negotiations”
2. Reduce the red tape
Set up a project team now, that gets together a wide range of small business owners, (not their representative bodies, though they can help finding the expert business owners), but businesses themselves. These business owners know the issues and the unnecessary rules, so get them all in a room and ask them, “What works, what doesn’t and how do we make it better”. Then listen and act on what they say. You could cut a swathe through the small unnecessary regulation in a matter of months and free up the creativity and productivity of many of our small businesses. Business recognises the need for good clear and simple regulation and they could help a new government team to target the ridiculous, the inappropriate, the too wordy, the useless and the duplication and remove these easy items quickly while helping to prioritise and work on the big stuff in the long term.
3. Simplify the Tax system
Start to look at the UK’s ridiculously complicated tax system, get a project team at HMRC to look at this now and build a plan so that we can work out the details of leaving the EU in parallel with a plan to finally deal with our huge and complicated tax system in the UK, so that two years from now we can manage our way out of the EU and have a simplified and better tax system in place. If we simplify the tax system and apply it consistently, that would send a strong message about how we intend to do business in the UK.
4. Keep and attract the big businesses that operate in the UK
If we reduce the rate of corporation tax to 10% or 15% this would probably keep those larger businesses that are already here and attract even more. Again this would send out a strong message that the UK still wants to be a strong global player in the world.
5. Reward entrepreneurs and small business owners
The government should double the dividend rate from £5,000 to £10,000 to reward entrepreneurs. Many small business owners who take big risks in setting up and developing their businesses used the dividend in the past as a means of taking reward when the business had a good year. The small tax break they received rewarded their risk taking and they only took money out when the business was growing and thriving, so could afford it, unlike many directors in larger firms who take high salaries and dividends, even when the business is performing poorly.
6. Give a boost to small business and the High Street.
Let’s cut business rates significantly. Business pays these rates regardless of their profitability and at a time when many businesses haven’t recovered fully from the 2008 financial crash, as many pumped their savings into their business to keep it going. Let’s give them a real shot in the arm by cutting the business rates and grow our independent businesses on UK High Streets.
7. Reassurance for workers. We are a country that was built on immigration
We have benefited massively, both culturally and economically from immigration, so let’s be clear that we welcome immigration. We just want some sensible controls on it that will benefit the country and the people who arrive here to work hard and build a life in the UK, we need to be able to plan infrastructure, schools, housing and hospitals that benefit us all. If an Australian style point’s system is the answer then let’s get it built and put in place quickly. We should also be reassuring those hard working people and their families that are already in the country, that we will not be using them as pawns in some future negotiation with the EU, lets tell them that they are valued and safe here, this is their home.
8. Education and Training
Let’s make sure we have an education system in place that delivers well educated and skilled workers into the UK and world economy, we know where the skill shortages are, so it seems sensible to start to train and develop our young people to fill these gaps, if we are going to be trading with China and India, let’s be teaching them the languages, if technology is the future lets boost training in technology. If this means an overhaul of the education system so be it, as we are in control of the money that used to go to the EU, let’s spend it effectively for the benefit of the whole country and invest in the education and skills training of young people who will ensure our economy thrives in the future.
As we now we have control of the money that used to go to the EU, let’s make sure that we spend time and money on the National Health service with a deliberate move to make it more proactive rather than reactive, so that as well as dealing with health issues when they arrive we look at preventative care for people to stop illness happening in the first place. This can be done in conjunction with business, many of whom already do a lot for their workers, they could be rewarded for doing so with tax breaks and we can look at bringing the National health service and the private resources that many of us already have closer together and let’s turn this into a well-integrated and truly national health programme that makes sure that we all live long happy and productive lives.
10. Spending and investment that benefits the whole UK
Many areas of the country feel they are disenfranchised from the government and from big business that is based in the South. Let’s make sure that spend and investment are balanced across the country, we need to make sure we spend the money that used to go to the EU wisely and better than the EU used to do. The move from London to Salford by part of the BBC was a brave and welcome one, which has greatly benefited that area. The Government should look at their own house and see what other departments and areas of business can be moved out of London to other parts of the UK. Why can’t certain departments be moved out of London with a small office in the capital to allow ministers to carry out their duties in parliament while the bulk of the work is done in Leeds, Sunderland or Birmingham? The government should lead by example and with improved communication and travel links there is no reason for this not to happen, it could also accelerate some of the projects already in place, like the “Northern Powerhouse” and better transport links between the northern cities.
These ideas from our members are more than just tangible suggestions that could change the country for the better, its more than that, engagement with these ideas would send a clear signal to the business people of the UK that the government is listening and that things are changing for the better, we at the Forum sincerely hope that this is the case.