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 and giving you insight in to my role as MD. I will also be sharing prominent news stories that are relevant to small businesses.

This month has been a very busy one especially around the subject of Business Rates. In this blog, I have also included some of the meetings I have been to over the last month to let you know what I’ve been up to and what keeps me busy!

Business Rates

February has been a very busy month mainly driven by the conversation around 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.

I appeared on radio 5 Breakfast and Radio 2 on the 17th Feb and numerous BBC regional radio stations making these points. We have also been interviewed by The Daily Mail, the Telegraph and the Sunday Mail. Hopefully with the discussions going on we may finally make some real headway on this issue and secure a better deal for our members.

Meetings

7th February ORB – We are working with Orb to help create an ethical workbook and also to look at joint ideas around the new “Hall of Shame” that we are currently building

7th February – I attended the FCA stakeholder group

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. They have just finished the consultation phase but we sought 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.

10th February – We spoke to BEIS about the appointment process for the new small business commissioner questioning why a member of a competitor organisation was on the selection panel which should in our opinion be independent.

20th February – I attended the Regulatory Policy committee in London, looking at the process to review new regulation and also quite interestingly the process for reporting the impact after implementation and if this is negative how we can address this

20th February – I attended the Taxpayers Alliance to discuss working more closely together on issues for our mutual benefit and the revised “Get Britain Trading” campaign which we will be relaunching soon and sharing with members

27th February – I attended a discussion forum at the Taxpayers alliance on the subject of business rates. A lively debate ensued and hopefully will continue until 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.

We completed 2 consultation documents

The CMA consultation on the proposed Heineken takeover.

The Consultation on the Government green paper on building our industrial strategy.

Have a great month and I look forward to sharing my next Business Voice Update with you soon.