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Ian's Business Voice Update - March 2017

 Welcome to my business voice update bringing you up to speed with what I’ve been up to at the Forum.  This month so far has been busy especially around the subject of business rates.

Business Rates

The Forum have been very active in calling for the government to look at Business rates for many years as we feel it is an inefficient means of taxing business and is particularly flawed in terms of the way it deals with small independent businesses. These private and family firms make up the majority of our membership and with the 7-year gap since the last review, while many are looking at a reduction, many others are looking at huge increases.

The Forum feels the tax needs an overhaul but that’s only part of the problem and the Government really need to instigate a grown up conversation about the make-up of Britain’s high streets and ask if we want a diverse and interesting high street or one populated by generic offerings, flats and charity shops. Our view is we should be encouraging the independent retailers who are the barometer of a vibrant, diverse and healthy high street rather than driving them out of business which seems to be the current situation.

It was great talking on BBC Radio 5 Breakfast and BBC Radio 2 on the 17th February and numerous BBC regional radio stations making the above points. 

Following on from that I have also talked to The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and the Sunday Mail. Hopefully, with the discussions and the points that I have raised, we may finally make some real headway on the issues.


7th February - We are working with ORB (Organisation for Responsible businesses) to create an Ethical Workbook and to look at joint ideas around the Forum’s “Hall of Shame”.  Our Hall of shame is will be newly launched in the coming months with more information on good and bad business practices.
7th February – Attendance at the FCA stakeholder group meeting.
8th February – I attended the HMRC digital services group meeting, looking at the implementation of the new digital tax platform and its impact on small business. HMRC have finished the consultation phase but I wanted some clarity on the issue of quarterly reports and supportive software, better communication of the process and a request that the threshold needs to be decided soon. As soon as any update is available with this I will be sharing with you, our member.
10th February – Attendance at the BEIS offices in London, where I was able to talk about the appointment process for the new small business commissioner.  I have questioned why a member of a competitor organisation is on the selection panel which should in our opinion be independent.  Again once I have more information and answers to my questions I will share this with you, our member.
20th February – Attendance at the Regulatory Policy Committee in London, where I was giving the chance to look at the process to review the new regulation and quite interestingly the process for reporting the impact after implementation. It also gave me the chance to see if the impact was a negative how the committee would address this in the future.
20th February – Attendance at the Taxpayers Alliance offices to discuss working more closely together on issues for our mutual benefit. We are looking at revising the “Get Britain Trading” campaign which we will be relaunching soon and sharing with you, our member in the first instance.
27th February – Attendance again at the Taxpayer Alliance forum to discuss business rates. A lively debate ensued and will continue until the Government takes long term, decisive and proactive action to set a clear direction for our high streets and the people who want to trade and shop in them.

Consultation Documents

We are regularly asked to give our thoughts and comments to consultation documents.  A consultation document invites the general public also to give their comments on a draft consultation document which then can be used in the full documentation reporting.
If you would like to see the open and closed consultations you can find them all here 
This month we have given comments to two documents.
1.    The CMA consultation on the proposed Heineken takeover.
2.    The Consultation on the Government green paper on building our industrial strategy.