Last week’s Queen’s Speech, the first Conservative-only Queen’s Speech for 20 years, will have a major impact on small businesses. Beyond the “In-Out” EU referendum, promised for 2017, there are two government initiatives that will change the business landscape for SMEs – one potentially good, one perhaps not so good.
Let’s start with the good news. The Enterprise Bill aims to reduce a lot of the beaurocracy faced by smaller businesses, who are often victims of inconstancy in the way regulations are applied, rather than the regulations themselves. It is difficult to see how the Bill will save SMEs the projected £10bn over 5 years, but any reduction in red-tape and the costs associated with dealing with it are to be welcomed. The biggest saving is likely to be in the area of late payments, with the introduction of the Small Business Conciliation Service aimed at resolving business-to-business disputes. The majority of these disputes are about late payment of invoices, with the smaller businesses finding cash-flow a problem when their large-business customers take three months to pay. Along with a freeze on VAT, income tax and NICs rates, free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds and a rise in the personal allowance to £12,500 pa by 2020, things are looking better for startups, sole traders and SMEs.
And now for the not-so-good news, the Investigatory Powers Bill. Likely to hit tech-based companies the hardest, there are still few details available about this Bill, which appears to be the successor to the the ill-fated Draft Communications Data Bill defeated during the last Parliament. Nicknamed “The Snooper’s Charter”, this Bill would have required technology and communication companies to record all web and social media use in case the police required access to it. Apart from concerns about privacy, the data storage requirements of such a Bill would be beyond most small tech enterprises. It’s unclear as yet what the new Bill will require of providers, but Teresa May, Home Secretary, has said “we are determined to bring that through, because we believe that is necessary to maintain the capabilities for our law enforcement agencies”.
Article written by team member Denise Shaw
Originally posted on 4th June 2015