Individuals and partners start businesses for a number of reasons but it’s been no surprise over the past 4 years of the Coalition that government has aimed its policies squarely at those businesses with the most potential to grow.
Early on, it talked of the private sector picking up lost jobs from the public sector. That has happened and at a higher rate than the government could have hoped. Moreover, financial incentives have been geared towards growth, whether that’s taking on new employers (a National Insurance holiday) exporting for the first time (grants and advice available) or researching and launching new products (R&D Tax Credits).
The Government used last month’s Small Business Saturday to launch a short paper outlining its commitment to further support small businesses to grow. The Small Business: GREAT Ambition paper summarises policy work to date with some hints of future work to come. The Forum of Private Business, which advised on some aspects of the paper, encouraged it to be presented in a business-friendly manner and in turn, we encourage you to take a look.
Two of the new announcements contained within the paper directly address calls from FPB members. Firstly, Broadband vouchers worth up to £3000 to help firms in 22 cities across the UK will help address access to and affordability of broadband for many small firms. Secondly, the paper announced a deal from the major energy firms to end auto-rollovers for business customers, limit back billing, increase transparency of contract terms and make switching easier. This was a result of months of meetings between energy suppliers and business groups including ourselves, coordinated by Number 10. We are pleased with the outcome, though of course will push for energy companies to go even further.
Our own polling suggests members are more optimistic this year about their own growth and potential new employment than over the past 4 years. The Forum of Private Business will continue to press government and devolved assemblies on the issues that impact our members and hope for more successes in the year ahead. And with this year likely to see all parties start forming their 2015 election manifestos we have many exciting, pro-business ideas to push for inclusion.