The Prime Minister set out his stall in a keynote address at the Federation of Small Businesses' conference and told his audience that ...this Government is pulling every lever possible to back small business'.
Explaining some of the measures, he said: "We’re cutting employers’ National Insurance by £2,000. We’re leading a review on late payment, for all those small businesses who struggle while their invoices go unpaid for weeks on end. We’re beefing up the Government’s trade body, UKTI, to help you export. We have provided thousands of Start-up Loans to those who need finance to start a business.
"We have also rolled back thousands of bureaucratic rules and taken on European Union red tape, securing an exemption for many small firms from European laws.
"We will be the first Government in modern history to have reduced – rather than increased – domestic business regulation during our time in office. We have trawled through thousands of pieces of regulation – from the serious to the ridiculous, and we will be scrapping or amending over 3,000 regulations – saving business well over £850 million every single year. That’s half a million pounds which will be saved for businesses every single day of the year.
“Too often in the past the relationship between Government and business has felt like ‘them versus us’, with Whitehall officials dreaming up new taxes and regulations to make your life harder. Not any more.
“The way I see it, we are all engaged in the same endeavour: trying to build a more prosperous, balanced, secure economy that brings more opportunities, more hope and more peace of mind for everyone in our country. That is what the Government’s long-term plan is about - and small business is absolutely critical to that plan.
"We will let you get on with what you do best – enterprising, innovating and – most importantly – creating jobs which give this country the long-term security we need."
The small business sector reacted positively to the Prime Minister's message, but sounded a word of caution that the rhetoric had to be translated into action.
Simon McVicker, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at freelancer group, PCG, said: "It is great that small businesses are clearly at the centre of the political agenda. Small businesses are a hugely diverse group, including 1.72m freelancers who want to stay small, but play a big part in creating growth and enabling entrepreneurialism. The Prime Minister identified some of the major problems that freelancers face, such as red tape and late payment and we welcome action in these areas."
Alexander Jackman, Head of Policy at the Forum of Private Business, said: “The Government has done a solid job in tackling the overall number of regulations out there and we congratulate ministers on that. What it needs to do now is commit to avoid changing the existing rules as often, to reduce the cost of compliance.
“The constant churn of employment law regulations provides as much of a burden to small businesses, who have to invest time and resource – or expensively outsource – in order to understand areas. Parental leave is a prime example. Businesses accept the need for it, but are frustrated that periods of leave and processes constantly change.”
Among the measures outlined by the Prime Minister were:
Business Rates - £1.1 billion package of business rates measures, with extra relief announced for small businesses through the extended doubling of the Small Business Rate Relief
Growth Vouchers – A £30 million programme which will see 20,000 small businesses receive up to £2,000 to help them access specialist support on hiring, financial management and marketing
Broadband vouchers – 10 out of 22 cities across the UK have already started to benefit from up to £100 million of broadband vouchers worth up to £3,000 each to help more small firms boost their business by accessing faster and better broadband connectivity
Employment Allowance – from April 2014 every business and charity will be entitled to a £2,000 Employment Allowance to reduce their employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) bill each year. Over 90 per cent of the benefit of this allowance will go to small businesses
Fuel duty - Government has cancelled the planned September increase in fuel duty. The average small business with a vehicle will save £1,300 on petrol by 2015
Regulation - more than 3,000 regulations, including employment, health and safety law and environmental legislation have been identified for scrapping or improvement through the Red Tape Challenge since 2011. This is expected to deliver savings of over £800 million a year once the measures are fully implemented.
Business Exchange - Another initiative is the launch of The Business Exchange. This asks big businesses to link up with smaller ones to exchange skills, resources and ideas to help them grow.
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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2014