The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

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The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, introduced to Parliament at the end of June, builds on the Government’s commitment to make the UK the most attractive place to start, finance and grow a business.

The bill reflects the growing recognition of the role that small businesses have to play in driving forward the economy, and will remove barriers to growth for small firms, strengthen the foundations for a sustainable economic recovery and create jobs.

Measures focussed on helping small business will:

  • improve access to finance through increasing the availability and sources of investment for small businesses, so that they can secure the funding they need to grow
    • open up access to small business credit data, level the playing field between providers and make it easier for a small business to seek a loan from a lender other than their bank
    • the introduction of ‘cheque imaging’ to speed up cheque clearing from 6 days to 2
    • increase trade credit availability by a potential £1.8 billion by enabling HMRC to share non-financial VAT registration data on a controlled basis to qualifying organisations
  • cut red tape by ensuring regulations affecting business are reviewed frequently and remain effective. It will also introduce a requirement for government to publish a target for its impact on regulatory burdens in each parliamentary term, holding future governments to account
  • introduce a Pubs Code and Adjudicator to govern the relationship between pub-owning companies and their tied tenants, bringing fairness to the sole traders and small businesses that run approximately 20,000 tied pubs across England and Wales
  • enhance the reputation of the UK as a trusted and fair place to do business by increasing transparency around who owns and controls UK companies; and helping deter and sanction those who hide their interest in UK companies to facilitate illegal activities or who otherwise fall short of expected standards of behaviour.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“The government is working hard to improve the environment for small businesses. Better access to finance for SMEs, measures to boost trust and transparency in British business and increasing fairness in the workplace are key issues that this bill aims to address”

Small businesses are the driving force of our economy and this bill is part of the government’s commitment to back enterprise and help firms to start-up and scale-up”

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill also introduces measures to:

  • stop abuse of individuals on zero hour contracts by making sure they are not tied exclusively to 1 employer
  • deter employers from breaking National Minimum Wage legislation by amending the power to set the maximum penalty for under payment so it can be calculated on a per worker basis
  • strengthen the rules on director disqualifications to widen the matters of misconduct courts must take into account when disqualifying, including conduct in overseas companies, and measures to help creditors recoup losses resulting from director misconduct
  • assist small business expansion overseas by increasing the support available from UK Export Finance and widening its powers, making it easier for all businesses, regardless of size, to expand in the international marketplace
  • streamline insolvency law to remove unnecessary costs and ensure effective oversight of insolvency practitioners so they deliver their services at a fair and reasonable cost that reflects the work undertaken
  • improve companies’ payment practices so that small businesses can negotiate fair terms and ensure more of their invoices are paid on time
  • provide new and improved information on learning outcomes by tracking students through education into the labour market; identifying which schools and colleges provide the best routes to sustainable employment.
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