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Welsh firms launch ‘Back to Business’ manifesto as polling day looms

With fewer than four weeks until the UK heads to the polls, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which represents small firms and the self-employed, is today launching it’s Back to Business 2019 manifesto.  

In Wales, FSB is calling on the next UK Government to:

  • Ensure that funding is protected for Wales and Welsh businesses post-Brexit
  • Bring Wales in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland by devolving Air Passenger Duty (APD)
  • Commit to the electrification of the south Wales mainline to Swansea and investing in Growth Track 360 in North Wales.

Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said: “For over three years, uncertainty over Brexit has hovered over the economic landscape, distracting policy makers from taking steps to help Wales’ 257,600 small businesses to grow, and in turn boost our economy.

“It’s time to get back to business.

“We are urging all candidates standing at this election to listen to, and make every effort to understand, the challenges faced by small firms in the communities they hope to represent.”

“For some time, FSB Wales has called for UK Government to devolve APD, which has the potential to open up new trade routes for Wales’ businesses and enable them to exploit new opportunities around the world.

“Furthermore, It is vital that the next UK Government end the uncertainty surrounding funding in Wales and commit to Wales receiving the same level of funding post-Brexit, the spending power for which should lie in Wales.”

Elsewhere, FSB is reiterating the need to implement the measures it has previously secured which are aimed at ending a £2.5 billion late payment crisis that destroys 50,000 businesses a year. They include:

  • Holding boards accountable for poor supply chain treatment by making the audit committee of every large business responsible for payment practices.
  • Properly empowering a swiftly appointed Small Business Commissioner.
  • Banning late payers from all public sector procurement opportunities.

FSB is urging policymakers to focus attention on how to help the UK’s self-employed population by:

  • Delaying changes to IR35, or ‘off-payroll working’, rules set to take effect in April 2020.
  • Making Universal Credit work for the self-employed, namely by reforming the Minimum Income Floor to reflect the reality that sole traders are not paid in regular monthly instalments.
  • Bringing the maternity allowance for self-employed mothers in-line with statutory maternity pay and introducing paternity and adoption allowances for sole traders.
  • Introducing a ‘legislative lock’ for the self-employed, ensuring that any measure brought forward to help employees is accompanied by a corresponding action to help sole traders.
  • Encouraging banks to do more to assist sole traders who apply for mortgages and introduce pension dashboards to help the self-employed keep track of their savings.

Ben Francis added: “The nature of self-employment means solutions that work for employees do not always work for the self-employed. The next UK Government should set aside time, effort and resource to right this wrong.

“Small businesses want to see a dynamic UK Government that is ambitious for business in Wales, and is committed to delivering the circumstances in which smaller firms can thrive. Our manifesto outlines the steps that the next UK Government should take if they are serious about supporting business in Wales.”