It was revealed during the Queen’s Speech today that the government is introducing a new Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.
The bill has been designed to address the needs of small businesses, which the government has previously described as being lifeblood of the British economy. It tackles a range of issues which currently affect UK SMEs, creating a package of measures which aim to improve conditions for small businesses and workers, and ensure a fairer marketplace for everyone. These issues include:
- Prompt payments – Late payments to small companies can be a drain on both the company’s time and finances. Therefore the bill includes measures to ensure that larger companies pay small business owners promptly for any work they do.
- Access to finance – The Queen stated in her speech that the legislation would “support small businesses by cutting bureaucracy and enabling them to access finance.” As we reported last week, this is just the latest in a long line of current government moves to ensure that more small business are able to get the financial support they need.
- Transparency – The legislation will establish a public register of company beneficial ownership, making it more difficult for large firms to evade tax and creating a more level playing field.
- Zero hour contracts – The controversial contracts will be reformed under the bill, though opinion is divided on whether this will help or harm workers. While there have been many instances of zero hour contracts being abused, others enjoy the flexibility they offer.
- National minimum wage abuses – Higher penalties are to be imposed on those who fail to pay their staff minimum wage, a reform which has been “desperately needed in the social sector” according to Simon Botter, director of policy at Independent Age. He reports that it is estimated that somewhere between 160,000 and 220,000 care workers are paid less than the minimum wage.
The speech was described by David Cameron as “unashamedly pro-work, pro-business, and pro-aspiration” and has been largely praised for its focus on improving the economy and helping small business owners and low-wage workers. Particularly so by the Federation of Small Business, for whom the legislation is a huge achievement – the FSB have been campaigning for many years for regulation to prevent late payments and to reduce the impact of regulation on small companies.
If you or your small business have been affected by late payments, access to finance or any other financial roadblocks, contact MCC. We specialise in helping SMEs, and our dedicated Manchester team can assist you with anything from tax returns to bookkeeping. Send us a message through our contact form or call us on 0161 707 1500.