The Queen’s speech was delivered on 27 May 2015 and outlined the priorities of the new government. The main area of focus for businesses is the Enterprise Bill, which is intended to:
- Serve the interests of small businesses in particular;
- Simplify and clarify the business environment generally;
- Focus on growth of businesses and an increase in jobs available.
The proposals highlight a reduction in the restrictions and regulations imposed for trading businesses in the UK, with an aim to increase free trade.
The points below are those raised in the speech that with will be particularly relevant to businesses:
Reduction in bureaucracy
The government intends to reduce bureaucracy by:
- A further £10 billion of cuts in red tape;
- Reducing unnecessary burdens on business within the European market;
- Implementing EU law in a way that ensures UK business is not disadvantaged;
- Putting a break on new regulations with a ‘one in, two out’ policy- i.e. the requirement of the government to abolish two regulations for every one it reduces.
From this, businesses can expect the government to aim to reduce intervention in business, and attempt to increase free trade.
“Primary authority” programme
The primary authority programme was initially intended to benefit large firms by reducing the amount of red tape businesses have to deal with in order to reduce costs and to promote a focus on business expansion. Records now show, however, that over two thirds of those taking advantage of the scheme are small businesses.
The programme allows a business to obtain advice on regulation from a single local council. This advice must then be respected by all other local councils, which aims to reduce businesses having to deal with a number of authorities, and which results in the exhaustion of valuable time and costs.
The government has been concerned about the effect late payments will have on small businesses, and have already taken a number of steps to tackle this concern. Further measures include:
- Widen powers for representatives to challenge unfair payments;
- The set up of a Small Business Conciliation Service, with the aim of helping small businesses settle any issues with large corporations. The idea is that the service will handle disputes between businesses without having to take the matter to court, with particular emphasis on late payment issues.
Additional measures include:
- Improving the business rate system before the 2017 revaluation;
- Abolishing national insurance for apprentices under 25.