Government to back business with new Enterprise Bill

The government has published an Enterprise Bill that backs business to drive growth, create jobs and ensure economic security for all.

The Bill will help tackle the scandal of late payments holding back many small businesses, ensure high quality apprenticeships, and make further cuts to burdensome red tape for the first time including the actions of regulators.

New measures include:

A clamp down on the late payment of insurance claims to help businesses recover faster from fires and floods. There is currently no clear requirement for insurers to pay undisputed claims to businesses in a reasonable amount of time – this measure will introduce such a requirement into every contract of insurance.

The Enterprise Bill will also update the Industrial Development Act to give new powers for government to fund new broadband projects across the country, for the benefit of industry or local communities.
The Enterprise Bill will set up a Small Business Commissioner to help small firms handle disputes with larger businesses over issues like late payment, which costs small firms £26.8 billion.

The Bill will also allow the government’s ambitious £10 billion cutting red tape target to be extended to include the actions of regulators for the first time.

Encouraging businesses to invest in the skills of their staff is a vital part of the government’s plan to boost productivity in the UK. The Enterprise Bill includes a measure to prevent people passing off poor quality training schemes as ‘apprenticeships’ and will set targets for the number of apprentices taken on by public bodies. This will ensure the public sector leads by example and invests in a highly-skilled workforce.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The Government is committed to making sure the UK continues to be the best place in Europe to do business. The Enterprise Bill will help do just that with measures to cut red tape, protect high-quality apprenticeships and deal with unfair payment practices hitting small firms.

“I firmly believe that to reap rewards for working people across the country we need to get behind our great British businesses.”

Small Business, Industry and Enterprise Minister Anna Soubry said: “Our Enterprise Bill will help tackle some of the biggest issues facing business today. Overzealous regulation and unacceptable late payments are just some of the issues targeted in a comprehensive package of measures designed to give a boost to the UK economy.

“This is about letting businesses get on with what they do best, while taking sensible action to support those that need it.”

The Enterprise Bill will also extend the Primary Authority scheme, which has already helped over 7,000 businesses comply with local regulations.

Proposals are being published today to open up the scheme to thousands more small firms and entrepreneurs. They will also make trusted regulatory advice from a single local authority available to all businesses across England and Wales, whatever their size.

Commenting on the Bill Matthew Fell, CBI Director for Competitive Markets, said: “The Enterprise Bill includes important measures that should improve opportunities for growing businesses to get on and scale up.

“Pruning unnecessary red tape will give firms bursting with potential – especially small and medium-sized ones – the space to grow and thrive. Expanding tailored business advice from local authorities and involving regulators more closely in the better regulation process are good signs of an ambitious plan.

“Late payment remains a key concern for small businesses and the new Small Business Commissioner must play a role in driving culture change throughout the business community. Resolving disputes quickly before they damage commercial relationships should be the main focus of the body.”