The Small Business Taskforce, a group of 14 organisations representing two million small businesses and self-employed individuals between them, has published a wish list it hopes will strike a chord at the heart of government.
The group that created the wish list, which includes Enterprise Nation, the ICAEW and IPSE, came together post-Brexit, out of a concern that the appetite to continue to support an entrepreneurial environment that suits smaller firms was disappearing in Whitehall.
Its uniting principle is that entrepreneurship and self-starters are good for the economy, that small British businesses should be encouraged and supported to thrive – and that the government should back small enterprises.
Emma Jones, founder of small business support group Enterprise Nation, and group spokesman, says, ‘We know that government plays an important role in creating the right culture and environment for small businesses to flourish. There are 5.3 million businesses in the UK, between 98 and 99 per cent of them are SMEs, acknowledging their important contribution and listening to their concerns will be critical in 2017.’
Throughout 2017, the taskforce will work on a number of issues, from tax to trade, education and procurement.
It has published a ten point wish list it hopes will offer insight into the needs of smaller companies.
Introduction of Export Vouchers
Offering small companies financial and advisory support so small enterprises can play an increasing role in international trade, as well as stimulating an export culture in the smallest of firms.
Extension of EIS
EIS is due to end in 2025 without further legislative action. State aids are generally time limited. The equity/funding gap in the UK is longstanding, and is likely to be still with us in 2025 and beyond. We would like to see this reviewed and extended.
Exemptions to Making Tax Digital initiative
During the implementation period, there should be no mandating until each part of HMRC’s IT system and support function is in place and has been tested. Plus an easement for the smallest of businesses with a higher exemption limit than the threshold in the published consultation document of £10,000.
Inclusion of SMEs in corporate supply chains
Building on results of The Corporate Challenge launched and operated by Social Enterprise UK.
Confirm the long-term residence rights of EU citizens currently working in the UK and commitment to a flexible labour market.
Review of Universal Credit
Assesses if this new welfare programme with its Minimum Income Floor will push self-employed people out of business before they have a chance to become viable.
Review of pensions
Reviews of pensions and retirement security for the self-employed leveraging the recently launched review of auto-enrolment to consider seriously whether there is potential for extending a form of assisted enrolment to the self-employed.
Clarification on business support
A percentage of business support programmes have been underpinned by EU funds. We would like to see a review of funding available for this and proposed expenditure plans.
Discussions with small business into making tax fairer and simpler for the self-employed, and to reflect the substantial contribution small businesses make to British economic prosperity in domestic policy and trade deals.
A more positive portrayal of the role of small businesses and the self-employed from government officials.
The task force is committed to supporting the government in these points through offering immediate access to, and consultation with, small businesses and their advisers from across the UK.