Plea for government to help SMEs make Brexit work
The Forum of Private Business has emailed George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer; Sajid Javid, secretary of state for Business, and Anna Soubry, minister of state for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, with its 10-point plan to help grow the economy.
Managing director Ian Cass wrote: “On behalf of our members, The Forum would like to see some clear action from our leaders. If we see Brexit as an opportunity then small businesses can contribute massively to a bright future for the UK.
“We just need a bit of help, and would like to see the following 10 ideas put into practice:-
1. Clear direction and confidence. Let’s see a clear and decisive statement from the government saying who is in charge and what the government intend to do from now until a new leader is in place. We need to know exactly what they are doing and who is doing it; we need to see a plan and a strong united team working on it.
2. Reduce the red tape. Set up a project team now that gets together a wide range of small business owners, (not their representative bodies, though they can help finding the expert business owners), but businesses themselves. As they know the issues and the unnecessary rules, get them all in a room and ask them, “What works, what doesn’t and how do we make it better”. Then listen and act on what they say. You could cut a swathe through unnecessary regulation in a matter of months and free up the creativity and productivity of many of our small businesses.
3. Simplify the Tax system. Start to look at the UK’s ridiculously complicated tax system, get a team at HMRC to look at this now and build a plan so that we work out the details of leaving the EU in parallel with this plan to finally deal with this ridiculously complicated tax system, so that two years from now we manage our way out of the EU and have a simplified and better tax system in place. If we simplify the tax system and apply it consistently, that would send a strong message about how we intend to do business in the UK.
4. Keep and attract the big businesses who operate in the UK. If we reduce the rate of corporation tax by 5% or 10%, we would probably keep those businesses already here and attract more. Again this would send out a strong message that the UK still wants to be a strong global player in the world.
5. Reward entrepreneurs and small business owners. Double the dividend rate from £5,000 to £10,000. Many small business owners who take big risks in setting up and developing their businesses used the dividend as a means of taking reward when the business had a good year. The small tax break rewarded their risk taking and they only took money out when the business was growing and thriving, so could afford it.
6. Give a boost to small business and the High Street. Let’s cut business rates significantly. Business pays these rates regardless of their profitability and at a time when many businesses haven’t recovered fully from the crash. Let’s give them a real shot in the arm by cutting the business rates and grow our independent businesses on UK High Streets.
7. Reassurance for workers. We are a country that was built on immigration. We have benefited massively, both culturally and economically from it, so let’s be clear that we welcome immigration. We just want some sensible controls on it, that will benefit the country and the people who arrive here to work hard and build a life in the UK. If an Australian style point’s system is the answer then let’s get it built and put in place quickly.
8. Education and training. Let’s make sure we have an education system in place that delivers well educated and skilled workers into the UK and world economy. If we are in control of the money that used to go to the EU, then let’s spend it effectively for the benefit of the whole country and invest in the education and skills training of young people who will ensure our economy thrives in the future.
9. Healthcare. Now we have control of the money that used to go to the EU, let’s make sure that we spend heavily on the National Health service with a deliberate move to make it proactive rather than reactive, so that as well as dealing with health issues when they arrive we look at preventative care for people to stop illness happening in the first place. This can be done in conjunction with business, many of whom already do a lot for their workers, let’s turn this into a truly national health programme that makes sure we all live long happy and productive lives.
10. Spending and investment that benefits the whole UK. Many areas of the country feel they are disenfranchised from the government and from big business that is based in the South. Let’s make sure that spend and investment are balanced across the country, we need to make sure we spend the money that used to go to the EU wisely and better than the EU used to do. The move from London to Salford by part of the BBC was a brave and welcome one, which has greatly benefited that area. The Government should look at their own house and see what other departments and areas of business can be moved out of London to other parts of the UK. With improved communication and travel links there is no reason for this not to happen and it could accelerate some of the projects already in place.”