FSB Sussex continued the south east’s MP roundtable programme with a special trip to the Houses of Parliament. Members enjoyed an official tour and a business meeting with Tim Loughton (pictured).
Tim is the MP for Shoreham and East Worthing (pictured, front right). The questions raised at the roundtable included transport matters – an issue very important to the local economy - with a discussion around sustainable transport and joining up bus and rail services and cycle ways. Schemes to extend charging points was raised, at, for instance, town centres, retail and industrial parks, to encourage electric vehicle usage.
The group also focussed on Lancing and heard that whilst the Lancing Business Park was 99.5% occupied and businesses are looking to expand, the town centre itself was in quite a bad shape. This is in line with many of the smaller High Streets in the UK and a wider issue that FSB is lobbying Government upon. He said he opposed the new IKEA plans in the area, because it would take away space from smaller businesses that need to develop, would absorb business that would otherwise go to local cafes and restaurants and add to the traffic on an already congested A27. He was sceptical that the jobs being created would necessarily be filled by local people as the area has a low unemployment rate.
Regarding managing finances and taxation, a point from the group was made on VAT monthly accounting to aid cash flow. However, others expressed concern about frequent tax reporting, for instance, the 2019 ‘Making Tax Digital’ scheme, which requires VAT registered businesses to file quarterly. This was seen as an unnecessary administrative burden, especially when smaller businesses accounts often do not reflect a consistent flow of income and expenditure. Martin Searle, FSB Development Manager for Sussex (pictured, far right), said that on-line resources, webinars and events were being rolled out to support members to complete the HMRC returns efficiently under ‘MTD’.
Discussing broadband, Tim gave the good news that there will be a local pilot for Superfast Broadband and free WiFi areas. West Sussex County Council is working upon this. And no discussion is currently free from the issue of Brexit. Tim endorsed the FSB business view that certainty is what the economy needs at this point, although he had misgivings on the Prime Minister’s deal.
“We have had a very interesting and memorable morning,” concluded Martin Searle. “We thank Tim for his time and his staff for organising a most comprehensive tour where we were able to see both the House of Commons and Lords, the voting lobbies, Queen’s Robing room and the impressive underground chapel.”