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Talking Business: What the Enterprise Bill means for you

Last week the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published an Enterprise Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Lords. 

Although it has to be passed by both houses before it becomes law, the bill is set to tackle some of the important challenges that many small and growing businesses currently face. 

Bobby Lane, a business adviser to the fashion industry and a partner at SSH looks at how the bill could potentially make a big and beneficial difference to small and medium-sized enterprises in the fashion sector.

It’s good news for businesses who suffer from late payers

Being paid late can play havoc with a business’s cash flow and, in some circumstances, make the difference between survival or going under. Late payments have cost UK firms an estimated £26.8bn. Continually chasing late payers can also eat away into your time and  business spirit – so it’s great news that a Small Business Commissioner is to be established to promote a cultural change on late payments and to help SMEs resolve payment problems with larger companies. The Small Business Commissioner is also going to make sure that the business environment in the UK helps small businesses to thrive and grow. In addition, the commissioner is going to facilitate better understanding among small businesses of where to seek support when they have issues or disputes with other companies.

Cutting the red tape for SMEs

Many of our clients in the fashion sector raise the issue of red tape and how it often distracts them from getting on with the core activity of running their business. Over the next five years, government has committed to cutting a further £10bn of red tape – The Enterprise Bill will extend its deregulation target to include independent regulators to help contribute to this ambitious target. This will hopefully encourage them to think carefully about the impact they have on business before bringing in new rules. 

Apprenticeships getting quality training and opportunities

Encouraging businesses to invest in the skills of their staff is a vital part of the government’s plan to boost productivity in the UK. One of the ways which the government hopes to do this is by safeguarding apprenticeships. The Enterprise Bill includes a measure that will stop employers and training providers from passing off poor training programmes as ‘apprenticeships’. BIS will also set a new target for the number of apprentices to be hired by public bodies.

Reforming business rates appeals system 

The big question over business rates has been on the political agenda for a while – the bill is going to now tackle the issue by making sure the system is more transparent and easier to navigate, ensuring that businesses can be confident that their valuations are correct and that they are paying the right amount of business rates and introduce a reformed appeals system built around three stages: check, challenge and appeal.

The bill will no doubt be welcomed by many SMEs – but a lot of this has been proposed and discussed before. These are some of the key issues that our businesses face. Let’s hope that this time these measures make a real difference, rather than leading to more talk.

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