FPB urges action on EU Small Business Act

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has said it believes that proposals to support small businesses in the newly-published Small Business Act for Europe should be made key components of the UK government’s enterprise strategy.

On Monday 23 June, the FPB’s chief executive, Phil Orford, spoke at a conference in Brussels about the implications of the Act for small firms. He launched the FPB’s campaign to persuade European Union (EU) Member States to "think smallest first". Orford invited delegates to embrace new opportunities to protect the most vulnerable of small firms.

“The Act addresses the majority of the FPB’s concerns, which were outlined in our submission to the consultation in March,” said Orford. “In particular, it highlights the key issues of improving access to public procurement for small firms, reducing rates of VAT, and tackling the scourge of late payment, which is a perennial concern for many of the UK’s smallest firms needing to maintain a healthy cash-flow in order to survive.”

A snapshot survey of the FPB’s members’ opinions carried out this week revealed that 81 per cent believe the scale of late payments has worsened over the past year. Further, one-third of all respondents fear that their businesses will be in danger of going into administration if the current level of late payments continues.

“In the past, the UK government has championed much of what has been said in the Act,” Orford claimed. “However, given the lack of a mandate compelling member states to implement these proposals, it is important that the government now takes on the mantle of supporting the UK’s smallest businesses, in order to help them to grow by implementing real policies designed to address their needs.”

The FPB is urging ministers to tackle what FPB members feel are the most significant barriers to growing a business of disproportionate tax and over-regulation.

The act also calls on EU member states to encourage local authorities to divide contracts into lots, where appropriate, thereby making them more accessible to smaller firms. In addition, the announcement that a directive will be introduced on reduced rates of VAT will, if properly implemented, enable the UK government to introduce reduced rates for locally-supplied services, which are most often provided by small local firms.

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