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Forum responds to Queen’s Speech

The Forum of Private Business has responded to today's Queen's Speech by urging the Government to forge ahead as a matter of urgency in key areas affecting small business, particularly in relation to supermarket suppliers.

Phil McCabe, Senior Policy Advisor at the Forum, said: "For too long small firms have suffered at the hands of the supermarket giants, but the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill should go some way to rebalancing the relationship.

"Of course the Government must now ensure the Bill is passed without delay. And while the new adjudicator is welcome, it is hugely disappointing that the ombudsmen will not have powers to fine supermarkets who unfairly abuse their suppliers.

"But we would say anything that can help safeguard the interest of food-chain suppliers is a move forward from where we are today."

The not-for-profit business support group was also critical of Government plans to shake-up parental leave over fears it will impact on small firms hardest.

Added McCabe: "Perhaps the most concerning aspect of today's Queen's Speech for many small business owners is the plan to shake-up maternity leave by letting mums or dads mix and match time off with the new arrival. Nice concept in theory, but the paperwork and organisation will frankly not be welcomed by most business owners. 

"There's also the chance of an extra two days of paid leave for fathers to attend ante-natal classes. Again, more paperwork, more form filling, and more bad news for businesses who could effectively find themselves being asked to finance two extra days holiday. 

"The UK already has one of the most generous parental leave systems in the world. This has to be considered very carefully and must not result in small firms being stung financially at a time they can ill afford any more business costs being foisted on them.

"While flexible working is good for some businesses, firm should not be compelled into providing it if it doesn't suit.

"It's also quite likely managers will find themselves in the middle of competing requests for flexible leave and will have to arbitrate over which is the more deserving case. Not only is this time consuming, it will almost certainly lead to conflict between the winners and the losers.

"Hardly great for a harmonised workforce."

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