FSB urges chancellor to help small businesses

Monday 9 October 2017

The Conservative Party Conference has been and gone, and several mentions were made of the self-employed and what the government would do to help them. However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has come forward to urge them to do more; in particular the chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond.

The FSB has called on the chancellor to use the Autumn Budget - which will be presented to Parliament on November 22nd - to tackle the recent drop in productivity, particularly among small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The organisation would like to see more steps taken to ease the financial burden on those who choose to form limited companies.

Mike Cherry, the FSB's national chairman, said: "Small firms need greater clarity about the future. More than seven in ten are not expecting to increase investment over the coming quarter. It’s hard to blame them when guarantees about a post-Brexit transition period and the future of EU workers have not been forthcoming.

"The chancellor must steer clear of removing any of the entrepreneurial reliefs that serve as vital lifelines to our risk-takers. Equally, simplification, not expansion, of the tax regime at the Budget will be critical to boosting productivity in the long-term."

One of the other projects Mr Cherry and the FSB would like to see expanded is the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). This innovative programme aims to help SMEs to work with the public sector, especially when it comes to pitching new technology solutions. The FSB would like to see this expanded in order to facilitate more innovation and creative exchange between small businesses and the public sector.

However, the FSB didn't just ask for help; it also pointed out ways in which the government could learn from the self-employed. In particular, it argued that more should be done to help the long-term unemployed, people with a disability and ex-offenders to get a job.

In this area, the FSB pointed out that small businesses have excelled. Not only are they "disproportionately successful" in helping people from these vulnerable groups find work - according to Mr Cherry -  but self-employment is also a viable route for many of them.

The FSB has found that roughly nine out of ten unemployed people found opportunities through either becoming their own boss or working for a small business. In order to keep these SMEs able to hire as much as possible, the FSB is calling for investment incentives such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) to be protected.

By Victoria McDonnell

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