The Queen’s Speech: what it means for small businesses

The Queen’s Speech at the opening of Parliament offered insight into policies and priorities for the coming years. What does it mean for small businesses?

The Queen’s Speech held few surprises, although there were important developments for UK SMEs:

  • No rise in income tax, VAT or national insurance before 2020
  • The threshold at which working people begin paying income tax raised to £12,500, up from the current £10,600
  • Proposal for a Small Business Conciliation service, helping settle disputes between small and large businesses
  • Plans to cut red tape for small businesses by at least £10 billion

Perhaps most importantly for the long-term economic future of the UK, a bill prepared the ground for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, a controversial vote that the Conservatives have promised by 2017.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the measures to back small businesses. “Ministers must stick to the path of fiscal discipline and continue to drive down the deficit,” John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses said. “We want to continue to see a stronger economy while the cost of doing business must be lower and easier, ensuring growth in every nation and region of the UK, not just London and the South East.”

Singling out the Enterprise Bill, Allan added: “Our members have been very clear on the need to cut burdensome red tape and on addressing issues like the billions owed to small businesses in overdue payments. The Enterprise Bill is a real opportunity to make progress on these issues.

“When setting out to tackle the burden of red tape, it’s important not only to identify obstructive regulations, but also look at how regulation is enforced. Poor enforcement or excessive monitoring requirements can turn straightforward regulations into costly and disruptive burdens.

“We look forward to seeing the details of the proposed Small Business Conciliation Service and how it will address issues like late payments. Small businesses often have the law on their side, but find accessing the legal system complex, time consuming and expensive. A properly constituted conciliation service should help with this and go some way to addressing major problems like the UK’s poor payment culture.”

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