FSB calls for government to rule out national insurance rise for self-employed

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged the new government to rule out a national insurance rise for the self-employed.

The business group has suggested that self-employed ‘strivers’ were concerned during the General Election that a ‘tax grab’ could be sprung on them in the form of higher national insurance contributions (NICs).

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To help support the UK’s strivers, the FSB has called for the government to bring the Maternity Allowance closer in line with Statutory Maternity Pay, and explore the ‘feasibility of Statutory Paternity Pay’ for all eligible self-employed parents.

Commenting on the issue, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘The self-employed community is an increasingly critical driver of economic growth in the UK. As the self-employed battle spiralling inflation and a new wave of political uncertainty, the last thing they need is for the government to revisit failed plans for a national insurance hike.’

Following the announcement of an increase in NICs for the self-employed at the 2017 Spring Budget, the FSB launched a ‘stop the 2%’ campaign.

It has also previously compiled a list of problems facing the self-employed. Some of these issues include a lack of sick and holiday pay, late payment from large businesses and a high tax administration cost.

Business confidence has ‘fallen dramatically’ since General Election, IoD suggests

A snap poll carried out by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that, following the General Election and the subsequent Hung Parliament, business confidence in the UK economy has ‘fallen dramatically’.

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The poll of 700 IoD members revealed that businesses require ‘rapid agreement’ on transitional arrangements that arise from Brexit talks, alongside clarity as to whether EU nationals already residing in the UK will be permitted to remain in the country following Brexit.

Businesses also have ‘no desire’ for another election this year, the poll suggested.

The IoD has called for the government’s main priority to be striking a new trade deal with the EU.

It also warned that political uncertainty generated by the election could have ‘disastrous’ consequences for the UK economy.

Stephen Martin, Director General of the IoD, said: ‘The needs of business and the discussion of the economy were largely absent from the [General Election] campaign, but this crash in confidence shows how urgently that must change in the new government.’

Business groups react to General Election result

With the 2017 General Election resulting in a Hung Parliament, the UK’s leading business groups have been giving their reactions.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has warned that businesses have now been ‘thrown into political limbo’.

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is urging politicians to form a functioning government which offers security and places the economy at the heart of its agenda.

CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn said:

‘For the next government, the need and opportunity to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions has never been more important.’

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for a delay to the beginning of Brexit talks.

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said:

‘It is important to go into the Brexit talks from a position of strength, focused on getting the best deal possible for trade and access to workers and skills. Negotiations should be led by a government and a Prime Minister that will be in place for the duration, and so we call for a delay to the scheduled start of negotiations rather than a rush to begin in 11 days’ time. The need for a transition period now becomes even stronger, providing the time to get Brexit right.’

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) also emphasised the ongoing uncertainty for business communities, and echoed the FSB‘s call for a delay to Brexit negotiations.

Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, said:

‘Whilst companies have for many months done their best to screen out political noise in order to focus on their own operations, this result will prove much harder for UK businesses to ignore.

‘No business would walk into a negotiation without clear objectives, an agreed starting position, and a strong negotiating team. It is hard to see how Brexit negotiations could begin without answers on these important questions.’

Business calls for support as UK voters head for the polls

Following weeks of heated political debate, the UK is heading for the polls to vote in Theresa May’s snap General Election.

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In the run-up to the election, business groups urged politicians not to allow Brexit to overshadow other important domestic issues, including boosting UK competitiveness, improving infrastructure and encouraging local growth.

Business leaders have called for the incoming government to provide an environment which supports and encourages small businesses, and a tax system that works for businesses of all sizes.

While aspects of foreign policy and social care have dominated many of the arguments, the main parties have set out their key plans on tax, infrastructure, immigration and investment.

Around 46.9 million people have registered to vote for the 650 seats at Westminster, with any one party requiring 326 seats in order to form a majority in the House of Commons.

Small Business Taskforce outlines priorities for UK firms in election manifesto

The Small Business Taskforce has outlined its priorities for UK small firms ahead of the General Election on 8 June.

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The Taskforce, which is comprised of 14 organisations, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Enterprise Nation and the Entrepreneurs Network, has set out six key recommendations in its election manifesto, which it believes will help ‘build a positive and progressive business case for Britain’.

Amongst these key recommendations is a requirement for the next government to provide an environment which ‘champions the role of small businesses’, create a tax system that supports businesses of all sizes and supply business support that adds value.

The manifesto also calls for the next government to provide an advantageous pensions and benefits system, supply procurement opportunities that are beneficial to all and create a workforce that is equipped for enterprise.

Clive Lewis, Head of Enterprise at the ICAEW, commented: ‘Whatever the outcome on 8 June, the incoming government must provide a solid platform for small businesses to flourish and grow.

‘Currently businesses are cautious about the future and are holding back on investment, therefore it’s vital that, in the run-up to the General Election, all political parties spell out how they plan to encourage businesses to invest in long-term growth.’

CBI calls for next government to create a ‘business Brexit taskforce’

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for the next government to set up a ‘business Brexit taskforce’ in the 50 days following the General Election.

Business has the ‘evidence, ideas and solutions’ to help the UK gain an advantageous deal from Brexit negotiations, the CBI stated. It also suggested that a business Brexit taskforce would help solve the most complex Brexit issues.

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The business group claims that such a taskforce would help the next government to garner information about what businesses require from Brexit.

This information, it said, would serve as a compass for the next government to use in order to navigate through the details of the negotiations. Businesses would, in turn, get reassurance that the government is listening to their concerns.

However, the CBI also warned of the ‘dangers of the next government going it alone’. It stated that business needs a say in Brexit negotiations, because ‘even when the politics have been forgotten, we’ll have to live with the effects for decades to come’.

Paul Drechsler, President of the CBI, said: ‘At this time of unprecedented challenge, we need unparalleled co-operation between companies and the next government.

‘My message to the next government, whoever they may be, is you don’t need to ‘wing it’.

‘If you work with us, Britain will get a better deal.’

Significant rise in business confidence, ICAEW reveals

Business optimism has moved into positive territory in the second quarter of this year, according to business confidence monitor data published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

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Confidence amongst UK firms has increased from -8.7 in the first quarter of 2017 to 6.7 during the second quarter.

However, the ICAEW has warned that, with the General Election and Brexit negotiations looming, businesses have decided to put recruitment and wage growth on hold.

As a result, the ICAEW is urging all political parties to outline ‘how they are going to address the problem of business investment’.

Commenting on the apparent rise in business confidence, Stephen Ibbotson, Director of Business at the ICAEW, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see that confidence is starting to rise after a sustained period of decline.

‘Yet against this improved sentiment, businesses are not investing in staff and wages and may well be waiting to see what happens in the political arena, particularly in relation to how the EU negotiations play out.’