The wish list, compiled by the new managing director of the Forum of Private Business, Ian Cass, reflects the needs and aspirations of the thousands of SMEs that are members of the Forum up and down the country.
"Our members reported that one of the weaknesses of the coalition was its inability to deregulate and push the EU into greater simplification of laws regarding businesses, " he explained.
"Time is a bigger issue for our members than reducing costs at the moment as the economy continues to recover. Our latest cost of compliance report, due out next week, indicates that the amount of time that business can devote to administrative matters has plateaued and we feel that they should be spending more time on growing their businesses rather than dealing with red tape"
As part of a greater focus on improving productivity, we would like to see:
• Simplification of tax laws – in particular speedier resolution of recommendations from the office of tax simplification
• Better communication of legal changes and responsibilities – the Forum is working on improving its own compliance services but feel that more could be done to engage with businesses in a way that they find most appropriate and in particular to suggest ways in which they can effectively reduce their regulatory burden
• Our members are concerned about the lack of definitive answers from HMRC, so they would like greater resources put into advice and guidance from HMRC for businesses
• Reform of the utilities market so that business owners have the same protection as consumers – they often have less time to assess the market and complex contractual agreements
• One stop shop for business growth support through the Business Growth Service – this would include current schemes such as the Patent Box Scheme, R&D tax incentives and the Growth Accelerator Scheme and new initiatives such as an introduction of exporters relief to help businesses grow overseas
• More higher level support schemes to help business owners embark on improving their businesses, but focusing on the needs of small business owners not what third parties think. 44% see better management training as a way to improve capacity
• Pushing the EU to start acting on the “Think Small First” agenda – it costs 10 times for the UKs smallest employers to comply with legislation compared to larger SMEs
• Investigate whether the current VAT limit is inhibiting productivity and encouraging a black market. Understanding how businesses react on approaching the VAT threshold could have major implications for the UK economy now that there are around 3 million businesses not on the VAT threshold
• Encourage greater productivity within councils by making them automatically add late payment charges on to any supplier invoice where they fail to pay promptly
• Acceleration of improvements to infrastructure such as high speed broadband, road schemes etc. We would like to see the cyber crime department in the City of London bolstered due to an increase in cases amongst our members.
In addition there are a number of things that we would like to see not being done as our members report any of these possibilities could damage the sustainability of the recovery.
• Anything that damages consumer or business confidence – our members feel that confidence is still fragile and a considerable reduction in disposable income would impact on their viability
• Inflationary increases to national minimum wage until smaller firms have been able to fund auto-enrolment policies. Longer term pension auto-enrolment is the greater benefit to employees and should be seen in that light.
• Fail to continue with Business Rates reform, incentives in the last budget were welcome but for many would be retailers, restaurant owners and other high street businesses the model is not workable.
• Increase the deficit.
Notes to editors
About the Forum of Private Business:
Representing thousands of small businesses across the UK – including retail, service providers and manufacturing companies – the Forum is recognised by the Government as one of the six main business support and lobby groups. It uses this position to influence decision-makers in the UK and Brussels on the issues that matter to employers with under 250 staff.
We offer a comprehensive package of member services to help you make money and save money. Whatever the challenges facing your business, we can help.
For more information contact
Tel: 01565 626015
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