4 ways SMEs will benefit from the Enterprise Bill » SMEInsider

4 ways SMEs will benefit from the Enterprise Bill

On September 17th, the Department for Business, Innovation and skills (BIS) released an Enterprise Bill which aims to protect businesses from a variety of problems, drive further growth, create more jobs and ‘‘ensure economic security for all.’’


Tackling late payments

Arguably the biggest measure to come out of the Enterprise Bill is the decision to appoint a Small Business Commissioner to help SMEs resolve payment problems with larger companies. Currently, late payments have cost firms an estimated £26.8 billion.

The Small Business Commissioner will also:

  • Support the Government’s ambition to make the UK the best place to grow a business.
  • Contribute to ensuring the business environment in the UK helps small businesses to thrive and grow, to help support the UK economy.
  • Facilitate better understanding among small businesses of where to seek support when they have issues or disputes with other businesses.
  • Promote culture change on late payments.

Anna Soubry, the government’s small business minister, has gone further to outline the commissioner’s role.

‘‘One of the things the small business commissioner will do is signpost people to the mediation services available when neither side wants to go to court over late payments,’’ she explained.

‘‘Small businesses can contact the commissioner when they have a complaint and he or she will investigate.’’ As of yet, the role has yet to be filled.


Cutting red tape

In May, Business Secretary Sajid Javid set out a number of new measures to cut down on the amount of red tape plaguing small businesses in the UK.

The Enterprise Bill will follow through on Javid’s plans, pledging to cut red tape by £10 billion over the next five years as the government extends its Business Impact Target.

This new procedure will also:

  • Provide a wider focus for the Government to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses, enabling them to free up resources and boost productivity.
  • Ensure that there is even greater transparency around the impact of regulation on business.
  • Provide greater incentives for regulators to design and deliver policies that better meet the needs of business.


Improving apprenticeships

One of the ways in which BIS hopes to improve productivity in the UK is by safeguarding apprenticeships.

The Enterprise Bill includes a measure that will prevent employers and training providers from passing off poor training programmes as ‘apprenticeships.’

The government department will also set a new target for the number of apprentices to be hired by public bodies, ensuring that a number of young people will gain a promising career.


Faster broadband

The bill aims to update the Industrial Development Act, as BIS looks to give new powers to fund broadband projects across the country for local and industrial sized businesses.

Poor broadband has been a huge problem for small businesses down the years, with organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) complaining that the UK’s broadband target is not ambitious enough.


How has the bill been received?

A number of leading UK business organisations have commented on the Enterprise Bill, praising it in parts, but also explaining how the bill could have gone further to help underserved business owners.

‘‘The Enterprise Bill includes important measures that should improve opportunities for growing businesses to get on and scale up,’’ asserted Matthew Fell, director of the Confederation for British Industry (CBI).

Pruning unnecessary red tape will give firms bursting with potential – especially SMEs – the space to grow and thrive. Expanding tailored business advice from local authorities and involving regulators more closely in the better regulation process are good signs of an ambitious plan.’’

‘‘Late payment remains a key concern for small businesses and the new Small Business Commissioner must play a role in driving culture change throughout the business community.’’

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, has welcomed the new bill, but has urged government to put focus its efforts on tackling the UK’s poor payment culture.

‘‘The FSB welcomes the introduction of the Enterprise Bill and the continued focus on boosting enterprise. To make an impact, the Bill should focus on a number of ongoing challenges facing businesses and ensure economic growth is supported.’’

‘‘Those areas include reform of business rates, tackling the UK’s poor payment culture which sees too many of our members being paid beyond terms, lightening the burden of regulation and improving broadband connectivity.’’