As part of a major new commitment, Business Secretary Sajid Javid will say that he wants to help UK small businesses, branding them the “engine room” of British industry, vowing to get “heavy handed” regulators off their backs.
In his first speech since being appointed Business Secretary a week ago, Javid is set to announce that an Enterprise Bill will form a central plank of the first Queen’s speech of the new Parliament.
The speech is timed to coincide with an expected announcement from the European Commission on its plans to cut red tape across the European Union.
This comes in the wake of a report by a panel of leading businessmen – including former Kingfisher chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire and Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland – which, in October 2013, said the EU should cut or amend 30 pieces of red tape in a bid to ease regulation on British businesses.
That report formed the backbone of the Government’s lobbying efforts in this area, with possible reforms to be announced including lighter regimes for SMEs in new legislation and improved impact assessments.
Javid is also announce the establishment of a small business concilliation service to help settle disputes over payment with larger firms, in the wake of continued reports of big companies behaving poorly with smaller suppliers.
“Small businesses are Britain’s engine room and the success of our whole economy is built on the hard work and determination of the people who run and work for them,” he is expected to say.
“As Business Secretary I will always back them and, in my determination to get the job done, one of my first steps will be to bring forward an Enterprise Bill that helps them to succeed and create jobs.”
Javid will tell the UK’s small business owners trying to “improve the prospects of your children” that the Conservatives are “right behind you”, going on to say the Government will back those with the “guts and gumption to risk everything on starting something from scratch.”
In a highly personal speech in parts he will explain that his parents came to the UK from Pakistan in 1964 “with dreams of a better life.”
“My dad started off working in a cotton mill. Then he drove buses. And, at weekends, he ran a clothing stall at the local market. And my mum was back at home – looking after us and making clothes for the stall. Later, we had the shop.”
“Therein lay the soul of our family. It instilled in me an unwavering belief in enterprise, opportunity and reward for hard work.”
He will make the comments during a speech in Bristol, the city where he grew up, living above his parents’ ladieswear shop. The speech will be given at the Engine Shed business centre in the Temple Meads part of the city.
Sources last night emphasised that the commitment goes further than in the previous Parliament, when the coalition Government committed only to reducing red tape in central government departments, with no actual target in place.
This latest vow, however, as well as having a number attached, will relate to Whitehall departments and independent regulators, such as Ofcom for the media industry and the Financial Conduct Authority for the financial services industry.
The speech is designed to outline the scale of Mr Javid’s ambition in this area, with reviews into a number of sectors set to be established in order to come up with regulations which might be cut.
“We will sweep away burdensome red tape…[and] get heavy handed regulators off firms’ backs,” he is set to say.
Anna Soubry, the small business minister, last night described the pending bill as “no nonsense” saying that the Government wants SMEs to be partners “in identifying and scrapping needless burdens at home and in Europe.”
In addition, the Enterprise Bill will help SMEs by simplifying existing Primary Authority provisions – in short meaning that advice on regulation from a local council must be respected by other councils, to ease the burden on companies doing business in multiple geographies.
Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “It is great to see the Government start the Parliament with a real drive to support businesses. If properly targeted – these efforts to cut red tape for business could make a real difference – saving time and money.
“Businesses have been let down by successive governments promising to make inroads, so we will be watching carefully to make sure these proposals are delivered.
“On late payments the government does have a role to play in helping to alleviate both the cause and effect. But in order to change the culture of late payment we need to see a concerted effort from businesses themselves.
“To further free companies up from red tape and focus on growth, businesses will now expect to see a similar commitment from Brussels,” he continued.