Queen announces introduction of Small Business Bill to help UKs SMEs

The Small Business Bill includes measures designed to create a fairer marketplace and improve the general operating environment for small businesses. Tackling issues around prompt payment, access to finance, employment law, procurement and large pub companies controlling rent increases and beer prices for smaller public establishments.

Key measures in the Bill include strengthening the existing Prompt Payment Code and forcing larger businesses to publish their payment terms to increase transparency on the ethical treatment of small suppliers. In addition, enhanced powers have been granted to the Government’s Regulatory Policy Committee to increase scrutiny of regulatory proposals.

The introduction of the Bill has been universally welcomed with Joe White, CFO and co-founder of Moonfruit saying: “Paying small businesses on time is critical, not only to their success but the UK economy as a whole. Large corporates regularly deal out shocking treatment to small businesses when it comes to late payments.”

Giving his reaction to the Queen’s Speech announced today, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “Businesses across Britain will be relieved to see that the government has opted for a streamlined legislative programme, meaning ministers can devote more time to delivering the best possible environment for economic growth and enterprise. Businesses hold governments accountable not for how many bills they pass, but for what they actually deliver.

“If the legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech means better infrastructure, a better environment for growing companies, and improved access to finance, then businesses will give ministers the credit they deserve. Action, not words and bills, is what matters for business.”

Commenting on other elements from within the Queen’s Speech, Longworth went on to say:”Businesses and their employees will welcome attempts to broaden and diversify the provision of pensions in the UK. However, if the government does introduce a collective defined contribution scheme (CDC), it must ensure that the perceived benefits are not overplayed, and that prospective participants are made aware of the possible pitfalls of entering such a scheme – particularly around risk and access to funds. From an employer’s perspective, offering a range of models is not a problem, providing this does not lead to additional, burdensome bureaucracy. There should also be incentives for employers of all sizes to participate in CDCs, otherwise only very large companies are likely to take these up.”

On the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill: “Simplifying life for small or growing businesses should be an objective shared across all political parties. There are many measures in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill that will receive support if they work in practice – including faster company registration, improvements to public sector payment, and measures to support business cash flow.

“The vast majority of law-abiding businesses will also favour a clampdown on rogue employers who do not pay the National Minimum Wage, and on company directors who act unscrupulously. The key here will be to ensure that enforcement focuses on those businesses and individuals that knowingly and wilfully flout the law. Any measures that tie up honest businesses in new bureaucracy would ultimately be self-defeating.”

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

“Given where we are in the political cycle, and the temptation to play to public opinion, it was refreshing to see this Queen’s Speech focusing firmly on the economic recovery.

“The last thing businesses wanted was a raft of new legislation, so they will be bolstered by targeted measures to cement long-term growth, promote jobs and raise living standards. The recovery is already motoring ahead and this Queen’s Speech should help step it up a gear.”