Federation of Small Businesses – October Briefing

Issue 64 for October 2022 (issued October 5 2022)  

Business-supporting mini Budget measures welcomed

FSB broadly welcomed many of the measures announced in the recent mini Budget. We were very pleased, above all, to see confirmation of the reverse in the National Insurance increases we have been actively campaigning on (see our comment here.). These rises would have hit businesses and individuals very hard at a time when members tell us there is simply no money to spare. We are proud that FSB led the national battle on this and we see the result as a good one for local business. The news of the scrapping of planned rises in corporation tax is also welcomed as was the (less predicted) news that confusing IR35 rules will be abandoned and VAT charges for overseas visitors will be relaxed to help our vital international tourism market. We have been hearing from many members about their financial fears ahead of the winter – and that sense of general nervousness definitely remains – but we hope some of these plans will reduce the impact many SMEs were facing.

Hoping for local success at FSB national council awards final

We were delighted to see that nearly all of the local councils in this region – across Gloucestershire and the West of England – have entered the FSB Local Government awards for England. More than 250 councils at district, town, city and county level have entered these, our first national council awards, and they will all now be chasing an FSB national title in one of four different categories as well as regional honours. The awards will culminate with a virtual online final on Friday, October 14 and we will share details of any of our local councils who were successful in next month’s ‘Stakeholder 5 Pointer’ or via our social media links after the final next week

Vital SME energy costs subsidy appreciated

With the energy cost crisis dominating our members concerns at the moment, we were encouraged with the news that the Government will ensure business energy costs will be subsidised for the next six months. FSB has welcomed the intervention but, as Tina McKenzie, our Policy and Advocacy Chair, said, we hope it will just be the start of a medium-term strategy to help businesses deal with an issue that threatened to put many in danger of closure. “The announcement will give certainty for the next six months, but a tough year remains ahead of many small firms. Many had been waiting for details on the energy bills support package to plan confidently for the winter and beyond, so it’s encouraging to have the clarity from Government on the form that its support will take. So, subsidising the unit costs of electricity and gas for six months is welcome – but help must not result in a cliff-edge afterwards,” she said. You can see more of our thoughts on this – and some of our suggestions to target the most vulnerable SMEs – at FSB energy response.

First ‘face to face’ meeting success as hybrid mode sets in

The issue of ‘face to face’ versus ‘virtual’ continues to be one every stakeholder is facing with the vast majority of local meetings remaining (successfully) online. However, we were very pleased to stage our first ‘face to face’ business networking event for this region in nearly three years in Cheltenham last month which was extremely successful, very well attended and greatly appreciated by all who joined us at the Jurys Inn. Going forward our aim is still to do the majority of our meetings online as they are very accessible and inclusive (and avoid travel and venue costs for attendees) but we are pleased to have now arranged a second FSB ‘face to face’ networking breakfast meeting as part of the South Gloucestershire Business Show. The Business Show will be organising the event in association with FSB and we hope it will be a perfect start to the two day show. If you know of people who may like to register for the breakfast on November 10 and then join us at the excellent UWE based show they can visit this link.

Keen to hear of your SME support programmes

With our local SMEs continuing to struggle to meet rising business and energy costs, find staff and address general customer nervousness, we are always keen to hear from stakeholders who can provide support in any way to help local businesses survive and then grow. The most frequently asked question we get locally is about available support in the form of grants or advice on any business issue and so we are always keen to share ideas or programmes that may help to our networks or individual FSB members. If you can recommend any forms of support we can highlight immediately or keep on file to share in response to future queries just drop a line to Sam Holliday.