Friday, April 19, 2024

Thurrock Businesses Respond To Queen’s Speech

IN the first Queen’s Speech of the new coalition Government the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomes moves to safeguard jobs and support the economy as well as investing in high-speed broadband.

The FSB has been calling for a simplification to the tax system for some time and would urge the Government to implement measures which are clear and specific and fully evaluated to ensure that small firms are not unduly burdened. The moves announced to reverse plans to increase National Insurance Contributions for employers is welcomed and will help safeguard up to 57,000 jobs.

More than half of small businesses rely on the internet for up to 50 per cent of their annual turnover, so the plan to support investment in new high-speed broadband internet connections is also good news for businesses. A fast and reliable broadband speed, especially in rural areas, would help small firms develop their businesses therefore helping to strengthen economic growth.

FSB survey work has found that small firms are among the most responsible employers in terms of their record on equalities and flexible working. A third (32%) of employees in small businesses work part time compared to 14 per cent in the largest of companies. The FSB will look into proposals announced to remove barriers to flexible working.

The FSB welcomes the commitment to ensure the provision of a universal postal service and commitments to safeguard the future of the Royal Mail and the Post Office network. The FSB hopes these commitments do not remove the Universal Service Obligation Royal Mail provides to small businesses and that any commitments made will also lead to the setting up of a Post Bank.

The Government’s Energy Bill makes all the right noises but the devil will be in the detail to see how it will work in practice. Small businesses have similar energy consumption to domestic consumers but often lack the time and expertise to negotiate fair contracts.

Essex FSB believe that small firms should enjoy the same levels of consumer protection as domestic consumers and at the National Conference in March a motion from Essex FSB on utility contracts was adopted as national policy (click here for details)

Essex FSB Chairman, Iain Wicks, said: “The first Queen’s Speech of the new Parliament has some welcome initiatives which allow small firms to grow to help strengthen the recovery. Cutting the deficit is of high importance to a large number of small firms and we welcome the introduction of the Office for Budget Responsibility.

“Within Essex we have concerns about the speed and reliability of broadband services in many parts of the county, especially the rural areas, and have worked closely with Essex County Council, Maldon District Council and Maldon Local Strategic Partnership to support the wireless broadband service being introduced as pilot in the Maldon area. If that pilot proves successful we would like to see the scheme rolled out to other parts of Essex where there is poor broadband provision.

“Small firms are already flexible employers, employing more women and more part time workers than big businesses and plans to remove barriers to flexible working must acknowledge this. Changes to the one per cent increase in employers National Insurance Contributions will help safeguard 57,000 jobs, continuing to strengthen the recovery.

“Many firms in Essex, Havering and Redbridge have already changed the way they operate because of environmental concerns and we welcome the initiatives which have been announced but we would like to see small firms enjoying the same level of consumer protection as domestic customers when it comes to the level of information energy companies will be required to put on their energy bills.”


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