28th January 2014

FSB News Release

28 January 2014

The first ever Policy Conference held by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in London yesterday (January 27) saw Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Shadow Business Secretary speak to over 200 small business owners, and all recognised the importance of small businesses in creating stability in the UK economy.

Regional Policy Chairman, Michael Mealing from Huntingdon who attended the conference said that he was delighted that the Prime Minister addressed the FSB Conference as it showed the importance that he places on small businesses and their place in the recovery. He also quizzed Mr Cameron about the recent announcement on the proposed increase to the minimum wage.

Michael said: “Small businesses tell us that the burden of complying with regulation is a major barrier to growth and the work done to cut red tape will help. Government should ensure when changes are made, they are done properly and with small businesses in mind. We would encourage them to look at how tax administration is regulated, as this area places the biggest burden on small firms.

“As the Prime Minister agreed, English and maths remains an issue for small firms and getting this right is a priority for our members. Small businesses still don’t feel young people can transfer what is learnt in the classroom to the workplace and they need the confidence to employ young people.”

Responding to George Osborne, Michael said: “We are pleased to be working with the Chancellor to communicate and promote the Employment Allowance which comes into effect from April. We have called for action on NICs for employers to take on staff and we’re delighted this measure has been announced.”

Responding to Chuka Umunna’s speech, Michael said: “The opposition is taking the FSB’s calls for a Small Business Administration seriously. It is clear that all parties are listening to small firms in the lead up to the General Election, but it is important that whichever party ends up in Government maintains that focus and continues to takes decisive action to support small businesses drive the UK’s recovery.”

FSB members from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire took part in the conference through a live weblink. Charles Smith, the Regional Chairman said: “It’s good news that Prime Minister David Cameron recognises how important small businesses are but we need to see the Government do more, particularly around business rates and high end skills such as those which our businesses need, especially in this region.”

Mr Cameron went on to speak on the issues of public procurement, saying that opportunities must be opened up so that SMEs are more likely to enter this valuable marketplace.

Branch Chairman for Bedfordshire, Ian Cording said: “Small Businesses need to be procurement fit, but ticking all the boxes can be very complex, so simplifying the process to enable SMEs to compete is vital in this area.”

Reflecting on Mr Cameron’s comments on broadband, Huntingtonshire Branch Chairman Malcolm Lyons, who runs an agricultural business said: “Mr Cameron’s aspiration to make the UK the leading nation in the EU for broadband connectivity is a good one, but the reality of broadband provision in the UK is not good enough to meet the needs of business, or to cope with future technologies, especially in rural areas, so continued significant investment is essential.”