Small Business Taskforce sets out ten-point demand to government

IPSE and a collective of small business representative bodies and think tanks is to set out ten demands to government in a series of ministerial visits starting today.

The Small Business Taskforce, made up of 11 organisations representing two million small firms and self-employed individuals, will raise manifesto points in upcoming meetings with Ministers and policy makers. 

The paper sets out ten recommendations it believes need to happen in order for the UK to remain one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business.

These are:

  • Delivering and coordinating new data in a way that will accurately measure the contribution small firms and self-employed individuals make to the economy and the communities in which they operate;
  • A new definition of self-employment that leads to fair taxation and a better understanding of working this way;
  • A simplified bidding processes for small firms so they can better apply for government contracts;
  • HMRC to be given more resources to process registration applications for Enterprise Investment Scheme Relief in a post-Brexit scenario;
  • Shared parental leave rights and consideration of extending free childcare hours for self-employed parents;
  • A single gateway to allow small firms to flag late payment concerns, offering four directions of travel to find a fast resolution and facilitate continued trade;
  • Model tenancy agreement for small firms wishing to test out trade on the high street and the simplification of Business Rates Relief so more can claim it successfully;
  • A group to look at how small business support can be funded post-Brexit by harnessing technology and data like Open Banking;
  • The relaxation of business rates relief for co-working spaces to allow microbusiness to collaborate, and start-ups to get a good start;
  • More awareness of entrepreneurship and start-ups in schools.

Simon McVicker, IPSE Director of Policy and External Affairs, commented: “This manifesto comes at a particularly important time for the UK’s 4.8m self-employed population. The rise of the self-employed – up nearly 50 per cent since 2001 – represents a permanent and major structural shift in the economy.

“The lack of clarity about who is and who isn’t self-employed is creating confusion and stifling confidence in this vital sector. It is totally unacceptable that policymakers are relying on the courts to define self-employment.

“We want a positive definition of self-employment so the genuinely self-employed have certainty and peace of mind, and so unscrupulous companies cannot exploit confusion and push people into false self-employment.

“This manifesto provides a roadmap for the government to fully embrace the benefits the self-employed bring to the economy, particularly in ensuring the UK retains its most important competitive advantage – its flexibility – at this uncertain time.”

Taskforce leader Emma Jones, founder of small business support group Enterprise Nation, added: “We’re setting out our demands now because it feels like the government is ready to listen. Small businesses and the self-employed have been patient - but it’s time to raise these legitimate concerns in our manifesto in order to support enterprising individuals so that they can have the best chance to grow businesses and thrive in the UK.

“Small firms make up 96 per cent of the UK’s total business population. And yet very little is understood about their real contribution to the economy and as a consequence of that, very little thought and effort has gone into finding out what they actually need to continue to deliver half of all employment. As a collective we believe these ten points have the potential to deliver prosperity and fairness for all.”

The ten-point manifesto will be delivered to ministers in the coming weeks by the 11 organisations comprising Enterprise Nation, IPSE, the British Library, RSA, Centre for Entrepreneurs, unLtd, Social Enterprise UK, National Enterprise Network, The Entrepreneurs Network, EISA, and peak b.