Government Pushes Small Business to have Great Ambition

Small Business: Great AmbitionThe government published its commitment to helping the UK’s small businesses to grow in Small Business: Great Ambition…

The recent publication has set out to explain the government’s commitment to making it easier for people to set up and grow their businesses.

Small Business: Great Ambition, from the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) is part of the government’s ongoing policy to encourage business growth across the country.

With over half a million startups created last year (502,068 in 2013, up from 484,000 in 2012) and the economy looking to grow at better rates than over the last few years, 2014 is looking like a good year to do business.

The government, already announcing its commitment to growing business overall, has decided to use this publication as an opportunity to support and help smaller businesses.

With nearly 5 million small businesses making up 99% of the UK private sector and generating a third of the sector’s turnover, SMEs employ 47% of people in the private sector.

Specific areas that the government is looking to develop for SMEs include helping firms get better access to finance, help with hiring staff, developing innovative ideas and breaking into new markets.

For business finance, the commitment is to help dismantle the reliance on high street banks and create a more diverse banking sector that will work better for small firms.

Reforming the lending appeals process is just one step taken so far as part of this initiative along with the introduction of a new account switching service that will help businesses to switch business accounts in just seven days.

Other financial steps include the introduction of tougher rules to ensure better conduct and greater levels of professionalism in the banking sector, ring-fencing retail banking and higher risk investment banking and tackling late payment.

Reforming employment law is another prong of the government’s drive with the aim of making it simpler and cheaper for firms to employ staff. Cutting red tape by making the National Minimum Wage simpler and easier to understand, simplifying TUPE transfers for SMEs and controversial "shares for rights" scheme are just some methods to help smaller businesses.

The new Employment Allowance from April 2014, abolition of employer NICs for under 21s earning less than £813 a week and grants for taking on apprentices are further steps that the government will be introducing.

Innovation gates a boost with generous R&D tax credits, financing of the Technology Strategy Board and connecting innovators with funding, such as through the National Contact Point to tap into €70bn of EU Horizon 2020 funding and a new Venturefest network.

Breaking into new markets is another part of the government’s push to help small businesses with opening up public procurement and breaking down barriers to export being cornerstones of the government policy.

Matthew Hancock, the Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise said of the report:

“In the same way that small businesses are dynamic, so too are the changing issues they face. We need to be more alert and responsive to these emerging issues. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will challenge the whole of Government to deliver our commitments and make it easier for small businesses to grow. In a year’s time, we will report back on what impact this has had.”

In December the verdict on the initiative will be heard, seeing whether the words and promises have turned into fruitful results for the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses.

You can read the full details of the proposals in Small Business: Great Ambition (3MB PDF).

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