If you run a small business it’s all too easy to feel that somehow you’re being left behind in what is undoubtedly a fast-changing world. Economic policies swing one way then another, and seemingly stuck in the middle with little or no voice are small businesses. The government had pledged to tackle this feeling of impotence and powerlessness: in fact, back in April it went a far as saying that it would appoint a small business commissioner to deal with the issue. However, to date that promise has failed to materialise. The good news that will be welcomed by SMEs and accountants is that the sector has now decided to take the initiative and launch its own taskforce – the Small Business Taskforce.
The Small Business Taskforce brings together members of a number of key organisations, and has pledged to be the future voice of small businesses in the UK. Formed by Emma Jones, of Enterprise Nation, the new taskforce hopes to bring together many key members of the small business sector; from organisations like the Forum of Private Business (FPB), the National Enterprise Network (NEN), the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE).
The combined membership of these key organisations – almost 2 million small firms – represents around half of the total SME population in the UK. Ms Jones has also confirmed that members of the FSB and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) will also work closely with them on a case-by-case basis.
So what role will the Small Business Taskforce play and what is it hoping to achieve? Well, its principal role will be to function as a lobbying group to champion the needs of UK small firms. However, the taskforce also aims to challenge Government and liaise with ministers to enable them to consult with the small business community prior to the introduction of new regulations. Recent initiatives like quarterly tax reporting, which were introduced without proper consultation, have caused significant concern within the small business community. Ms Jones believes the taskforce will be able to ease any future concerns and will provide owners of small businesses with an empowering voice:
“We’re taking matters into our own hands. Entrepreneurs are the doers,” she said.
“We shouldn’t be waiting for Government to make the first move. This is a critical time for small businesses and they need a voice.”
To that end, the new Small Business Taskforce has already written an open letter to all Government ministers, including the Prime Minister, Theresa May, listing 5 key recommendations:
- Continuing to support a flexible workforce including ensuring EU workers in the UK have long-term resident rights
- The introduction of a workable tax regime created in consultation with SMEs
- Accessible business support
- International trade for all, and
- Consultation with small businesses
According to Ms Jones, the taskforce “is prepared to help the Government work on fresh plans for what business support and procurement could look like in a post-Brexit world.”
“We welcome the opportunity to work closely with Government to ensure the small business base of Britain can continue to prosper, delivering economic and social returns to our country,” she added.