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Small businesses should be at heart of government’s agenda, says Forum

The Forum of Private Business is calling on a future government to protect the interests of small businesses regardless of the result of next month’s election. 

Launching its own Manifesto for Small Business, the Forum has highlighted the importance of establish a regulator and code of conduct to oversee the relationship between suppliers and retailers, a freeze on business rates and a commitment to faithfully transpose the EU Directive on late payment.

Phil Orford MBE, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said: 

“The three largest Westminster parties have all positioned themselves as small business champions, and were they to take on board the policies our members have highlighted it would mark an important step in this direction.

“It is encouraging to see that the role played by SMEs is recognised, and the across-the-board commitment to crucial policies such as investment in rural broadband, support for apprenticeships and the review of business rates.

“Our Manifesto drafted in partnership with our members, offers clear, practical and realistic policies than can make a real difference to small and medium-sized businesses. We will be campaigning to make sure they happen regardless of who is sat around the Cabinet table in May.”

The Forum is calling on the next government to build on the work of the coalition to tackle the ongoing problems facing the UK economy to create an emboldened private sector to drive the economy forward by 2020. 

It believes that policy makers can do this in four main ways, by supporting better finance for business, cutting the cost of compliance, reducing the cost of doing business, and by introducing measures to support sustainable business growth. 

Short-term proposals for the next two years put forward in the Manifesto include: 

•    Amendments to current legislation to faithfully transpose the EU Directive on late payments

•    Removal of the Health and Safety Executive’s Fee for Intervention policy 

•    A freeze on business rates in the first year and cap at 2% for the remainder of the Parliament. Also moves to make Small Business Rate Relief permanent and automatic, and to carry out an immediate rating assessment with a promise not to subsidise any increase in rates for a business as a consequence

•    Removal of the VAT element charged on fuel duty contribution to pump price

Longer-term measures which the Forum would like to see implemented over the term of the next Parliament include: 

•    Setting up an advisory board for the Prompt Payment Code and introduce a robust monitoring system to ensure companies are worth of their place on it 

•    Ensuring the Low Pay Commission gives a two-year National Minimum Wage recommendation to government but avoid further political interference

•    Considering excluding small businesses from business rates altogether

Mr Orford added: “Small businesses will continue to be the engine room of growth and through providing the right mix of freedom, intervention and support, we can build on the recovery and ensure sustainable growth for the UK economy.”

A copy of the Forum's Business Manifesto can be downloaded here

 

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