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FSB host politicians at Westminster Summer Reception


FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, has urged politicians of all political parties at Westminster to form a “pro-small-business majority” in Parliament.

He was speaking at FSB’s summer reception at the House of Commons – the first Parliamentary event by any business group since the snap general election.

The evening was hosted by Labour MP Chuka Umunna, and attended by dozens of MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, alongside a significant number of FSB members.

It was a perfect opportunity for FSB to make its voice heard at the heart of Westminster on some of the biggest issues facing the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses.

Mike Cherry urged the government to show its support for the self-employed by promising not to resurrect a plan to increase their National Insurance contributions.

He also challenged the Business department and the Communities department to “get a grip” on local authorities in England which still haven’t passed on a share of a £300m business rates relief fund, which was announced back in March, to small firms worst affected by this year’s re-calculation of business rates bills.

For the government, Business Minister Lord Prior told FSB members that “there is so much common ground” across the political parties on the Industrial Strategy. And he said the government aimed to have “the most digitally literate nation in the world”.

Another keynote speaker was recently re-elected Liberal Democrat MP – and former Business Secretary – Sir Vince Cable, who agreed there was a need for cross-party working in the interest of small businesses and handling the Brexit process: “The political class has created a problem and we need to fix it,” he said, explaining that talking to FSB would be a key part of creating a strong post-Brexit economy.

Mike Cherry also told the politicians that “enough really now has to be enough” when it comes to big companies getting away with some appalling payment practices with their small business suppliers and contractors. The likes of late payments and unfair changes to payment terms meant that huge numbers of small firms were “being shut off from their own working capital,” he said.

For Labour, the Shadow Business Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, told the assembled FSB members: “You were the inspiration for much of the business parts of our manifesto,” and said her party was determined to reform business rates and take action on poor payment practices.

Chuka Umunna advised newly elected MPs: “Whenever we have debates on business matters, read what FSB says about them. It’ll save you a lot of time!”

FSB Policy Director Martin McTague said the event was “a great success in making our voice heard loudly and clearly with the UK’s decision-makers. It builds on our strong track record of engagement with those at the highest levels of politics, led by our public affairs team in the Westminster office. Our excellent election manifesto had a real impact during the campaign – with key parts of it adopted by different political parties. Now is the time to make sure they deliver, and give their full backing to small businesses and the self-employed.”