As this edition of Regional Voice goes to print, Theresa May is putting together her new ministerial team, as she does so the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for a guarantee that there will be no new attempt at a tax grab on the UK’s millions of self-employed. A previous plan to raise their National Insurance Contributions caused real dismay and concern among this large group of voters.
Now that it looks as though a new minority government is emerging, it is important for it to bring certainty and stability to UK business and the economy. Brexit is clearly the most urgent focus for the new government, with talks due to begin in a matter of days. But Brexit will only be successful if the government fully backs small businesses, the backbone of the economy, whose ambitions will need to be harnessed to make use of any new trade deals. UK negotiators must have their interests in mind, including easy access to the single market and the ability to hire workers with the skills they need. Brexit is not the only issue affecting businesses though and the Government can’t ignore the domestic agenda. Many self-employed strivers were frightened during this election by the threat of a tax grab on them in the form of higher National Insurance Contributions. I call on the new minority government to rule that out once and for all in the upcoming Budget, to reassure entrepreneurs seeking to help our economy grow that they will not have extra obstacles thrown in their way. There is no majority in the new House of Commons for a tax grab on the self-employed, and this idea should be ditched immediately. Across the new House of Commons there is a consensus that the Business Rates system is unfair, outdated and in urgent need of reform. There is also cross-party agreement on the need to tackle the poor treatment of many small firms by their big business customers. We look forward to working constructively with the new Government on all of these issues.