FSB calls for more detail about chancellor's small business plans

Tuesday 3 October 2017

The Conservative Party Conference is in full swing, and one of the topics that has come up - as expected - is that of self-employment and small businesses. With an impressive 15.1 per cent of the UK workforce working for themselves, these issues are becoming more important in order to provide freelancers with the support they need to succeed.

However, according to one organisation there has not been enough detail surrounding the government's plans. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has released a statement following chancellor Philip Hammond's speech at the conference, saying that more clarity is needed for the millions of self-employed people in the UK.

The chancellor's speech hit a number of different points. Many have praised his focus on certain areas, such as house-building and investing in training and development for workers. However, others have criticised it, claiming it is light on detail and focused more on attacking Labour than providing any kind of solution to the problems the country is facing.

The FSB's national chairman Mike Cherry was quick to point out that small business confidence has fallen recently, and the chancellor's speech would have been an excellent time to enthuse the self-employed about the future. However, Mr Cherry found the speech lacking in detail.

He said that small business owners "want to see concrete policy proposals to dispel uncertainty and help them invest and grow". Few members of this group would expect a huge amount of detail in a conference speech, however Mr Cherry pointed out that "they will want to see progress on each of these areas in the Budget next month and through the announcement of the new small business commissioner".

Of course, there were a lot of positives as well. Mr Cherry said: "FSB welcomes the commitment by the chancellor Philip Hammond today to focus on sustainable growth, investment in skills and retraining, as well as supporting transport infrastructure and new money for housing."

However, these are aspects of the economy that directly involve many self-employed people, from construction contractors to independent trainers. Mr Cherry noted that many small business owners would be keen to know "how they can play their part in building the houses and railways of the future".

It's clear that if the Conservative Party wants to attract the votes of the millions of entrepreneurs currently working in the UK, they will need to provide some certainty. A lot about the future is not clear - especially with Brexit on the horizon - and the chancellor could go a long way towards earning some goodwill with freelancers by helping them understand what to expect from the next few years.

By Victoria McDonnell

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