Government sets out new support to small business

Small Business: GREAT Ambition is a commitment to go-getting firms. It sets out how government can make it easier for small businesses to grow as the country gets behind local traders on Small Business Saturday.

These new measures will remove some of the barriers small businesses face, improve the business environment and make it easier for them to fulfil their potential.

The announcements and commitments include:

Brand new broadband vouchers – 22 cities across the UK will benefit from up to £100 million of Broadband vouchers worth up to £3,000 each to help more small firms boost their business by accessing faster and better broadband connectivity.

A fairer deal on energy– An agreement from the major energy firms to end auto-rollovers for business customers, limit back billing, increase transparency of contract terms and make switching easier.

Access to £230 billion of public sector contracts – Implementing Lord Young’s recommendations, which were accepted by the Prime Minister in May, to make it easier and simpler for small firms to win public sector business.

Tackling late payment of small firms – We will ensure that from now on all small businesses who supply the public sector in a supply chain will be paid at the same time as we pay our big contractors. And we will consult on new measures to tackle late payment in the private sector.

This follows a substantive package of support in this week’s Autumn Statement for small businesses, which included an extension of the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief to March 2015, a business rates discount of up to £1,000 for retail premises with a rateable value up to £50,000 and making it cheaper to employ staff aged under-21.

Small businesses will also benefit from an additional £250 million being made available to the British Business Bank to improve access to finance, announced by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable earlier this week. Also a further £160 million will allow the successful Start Up Loans scheme to be extended to more entrepreneurs.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “I meet with small businesses regularly who tell me about what government support works well and what doesn’t. Through our commitment to small firms we are directly addressing that feedback, freeing them from unnecessary burdens, providing more finance and improving access to advice and support.

“In particular we are tackling the issue of late payment, which can threaten the survival of otherwise healthy businesses. We are enforcing prompt payment through the entire public sector and asking what more we can do to get credit flowing in the private sector.”

Enterprise and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “I’m delighted that on the national day for small businesses, Small Business Saturday, we can demonstrate our commitment to making it easier for small businesses to grow.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the British economy and responsible for nearly half the job creation in the UK. That’s why we are removing barriers to growth and supporting them, so that they can create jobs and compete in the global race.”

Small Business: GREAT Ambition sets out how BIS will be the champion of small business across government, making it easier for small businesses to:

  • Finance business growth by creating the right banking and investment environment and the most supportive tax regime in the world
  • Hire people by making employment processes more straightforward and promoting a more skilled workforce
  • Develop new ideas and products by helping businesses get access to the expertise, equipment and funding they need to turn great ideas into reality
  • Break into new markets by removing barriers to certain sectors and providing advice and support for businesses trying to export
  • Get the right support at the right time by making business support schemes easier to find and more relevant
  • Get on with doing business by making sure regulation and the way it is enforced is proportionate and pro-growth

This includes our commitment to making business support easier to access. We are rationalising the number of different support schemes and joining them up so that businesses can go to one place to get the help they need. Business support at local level will also be brought together through Growth Hubs, providing a single place on their doorstep where businesses can go to get help.

This sits alongside our new Business is GREAT campaign, which points businesses to sources of advice and support that can help them grow, and celebrates small businesses that have grown with the help of government support.

Small Business: GREAT Ambition also states that Lord Young will conduct an Enterprise Education Review and make recommendations on how to inspire more people with the entrepreneurial spirit needed to succeed in employment or enterprise. He will report back in summer 2014 on his findings.