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How FSB’s influence has helped save small businesses around £1 billion


By Martin McTague is Policy Director at FSB

In these cold wintry months, with the credit card still straining from the cost of Christmas, there’s definitely a demand for something to cheer us up and refresh our bank balances. So let me tell you that you are on course to be about £1 billion better off. 

Now, admittedly, you’re sharing that with me and other small business owners across the UK. But still, you’re saving money. And it’s thanks to the hard work of FSB members and staff.

Changes announced in November’s Budget are a direct result of FSB making its voice heard at the highest levels in Westminster. Over the next two years or so, real savings will be introduced for small businesses and the self-employed.

Let’s start with business rates. FSB campaigned tirelessly for a new lower measure for calculating annual increases in bills to be introduced from April this year instead of 2020. Rises will be based on the lower CPI rate of inflation instead of the current RPI, and in England and Wales rates will go up by 1 per cent less this year than they otherwise would have done.

Second, we finally got a firm commitment from the Chancellor to abolish Class II National Insurance Contributions from next year. That will save our members who are self-employed £148 a year each.

The third thing I’m counting in my money-saving calculation is a further delay to the Making Tax Digital online tax returns system for smaller businesses. Before it becomes compulsory for the smallest firms, FSB has told the Government it must be low-cost and low-admin. 

The Chancellor listened to us, so only businesses with turnovers above the VAT threshold will be forced to submit quarterly tax returns online from April 2019, and even then only for VAT.

Firms below the threshold definitely won’t face it before 2020 and perhaps beyond, because the Government has promised not to extend it until the system has been shown to work well. That’s money saved on the cost of switching over and time saved that can be better spent running your business.

Add those three things together, and that’s how I reckon a £1 billion saving for small businesses is a conservative estimate. It also doesn’t take into account the other big wins we had in the Budget, such as the Chancellor clearly listening to FSB and deciding not to lower the VAT threshold from £85,000 annual turnover for at least the next two years. 

There was also a pledge to end the so-called staircase tax in England and Wales, which would clobber firms with additional rates bills if they happen to use a communal staircase or corridor. FSB had campaigned hard to get rid of this ludicrous rule, which could deter a growing business from reaching the next level – literally in some cases.

These are examples of what happens when FSB members across the country help with the campaigning, lobbying and policy ideas that have always allowed FSB to be the protector of small businesses and the self-employed. 

It’s amazing what can be achieved when so many members come together and work so hard to stand up for small businesses. And hopefully the money saved this time round might help pay off the credit card bill from the festive financial hit.