Promises to reduce regulations on small businesses, an SME conciliation service and an EU referendum by 2017 were some of the key issues raised during the Queen’s speech. What does this all mean for small businesses?
On Wednesday, the Queen delivered her address to MPs and peers in the House of Lords, outlining the Government’s legislative agenda for the next session.
Here are some of the major legislative changes that were proposed on Wednesday:
1. Enterprise bill – It will seek to cut red tape for British business by at least £10bn and, for the first time, require independent regulators to contribute to that target. The bill would cap redundancy pay to public sector workers and establish a small business conciliation service to handle business-to-business disputes without involving the courts.
2. EU Referendum Bill – There will be an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. David Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the 28-member bloc. There is speculation it could be held as early as autumn 2016.
3. A ban on income tax, VAT and national insurance increases for five years.
4. 30 hours free childcare a week for three and four-year-olds by 2017.
5. More devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and “English votes for English laws” at Westminster.
This year’s speech certainly touches on issues affecting small British businesses, their employees and its customers, but have the Conservative government gone far enough in helping SMEs?
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has already given its verdict on her Majesty’s speech.
‘‘‘The Government must maintain its course, strengthening the enterprise landscape to support ambitious businesses to boost productivity and jobs. However, Ministers must stick to the path of fiscal discipline and continue to drive down the deficit,’’ said John Allan, national chairman, FSB.
Although the FSB are very positive regarding the future of small businesses, there are other business leaders who feel that the Government have a long way to go until SMEs can really become prosperous.
‘‘The picture is much bleaker than many could imagine when it comes to late payments affecting small businesses,’’ said John Atkinson, head of commercial business at Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance
‘‘The impact is many SMEs are unable to reach their growth potential because they are too cash-poor to invest in growth and their time is consumed by chasing invoices and managing cash flow. And unfortunately, until businesses are given no other option than to pay on time, SMEs are going to continue getting caught up in this inward cycle,’’ continued Atkinson.