• Forum Lays Out Vital Small Firm-Friendly Measures in Election Manifesto

News & Views

Forum Lays Out Vital Small Firm-Friendly Measures in Election Manifesto

May 27 2010

The next government urgently needs to rebalance workplace law in favour of employers, according to the Forum of Private Business. The FPB is arguing that an ever-increasing tally of legislation has made many smaller businesses frightened of hiring, and even advertising for, new staff.

As a result, the Forum believes redressing the balance between employers’ and employees’ rights should be one of the key priorities for the next government.

This would help to both improve the fortunes of small business and reduce unemployment in the UK.

The proposal is one of many small business-friendly measures outlined in the Forum’s 2010 Election Manifesto.

Entitled ‘Rebuilding the UK Economy’, the document outlines moves that the Forum believes are necessary in order to help small businesses over the next four or five years.

Forum policy representative Matthew Goodman said: “With growing unemployment and an every-changing landscape of employment law, the Forum feels that any new government should dedicate itself to rebalancing
the cost and risk of employing staff.

“Many of our members felt that the current burden of employment law weighs disproportionately on the business, creating unreasonable compliance burdens on most small businesses and ruining relationships
between employers and employees.

“The UK economy will suffer during the recovery because of this imbalance. Small businesses are reluctant to hire additional staff – some are even afraid to advertise for staff after hearing of serial litigators who
scrutinise the wording of job adverts for opportunities to sue employers.

“Consequently, unemployment will not fall as quickly as it should. We believe that the only way to redress the imbalance is through reforming the regulatory approach to employment legislation, making fundamental
changes that acknowledge the employer’s rights alongside those of the employee.”

Elsewhere in the Manifesto, the Forum calls for the next government to help make the UK the small business capital of Europe.

The Forum believes policymakers can do this in four main ways – by encouraging free enterprise, by showing fiscal responsibility, by ensuring stability and by helping to foster high-tech, high-value manufacturing.
Short-term proposals put forward by the Forum in the Manifesto, concentrating on the next two years, include:

• A focus on the continuity of business support and incremental change in regulation in 2010;
• An increase in the amount of credit available to small firms from the major lenders, achieved through more transparency from the banks and better financial reporting from small firms; and
• A state-aided expansion in the range of financing options available to small firms.

Longer-term measures which the Forum would like to see implemented over the next 20 years include:

• More competition among energy suppliers and easier switching between suppliers for small businesses;
• Government action to help roll-out the next generation of broadband services and improve access in remote rural areas in order to ensure there are no geographical restrictions on business start-ups; and
• A decrease in the small firms’ rate of corporation tax to promote wider economic growth.

Other issues which the Manifesto highlights include the problems small firms face in their local communities, such as planning problems and declining local trade, and unfair competition and procurement.

The Forum also used the document to reiterate its calls for a comprehensive regulatory review – a complete re-think of all the existing workplace legislation affecting businesses.

Mr Goodman added: “Small businesses will continue to be the foundation of growth in the market and through providing the right mix of freedom, intervention and support, we can build a strong, sustainable recovery for
the UK economy.”

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