Posted: Fri 18th Sep 2015
The government has published an Enterprise Bill which it says "tackles some of the biggest issues facing business today". Here are seven measures small business owners need to know.
Small business commissioner
Aimed at tackling late payment, the government intends to establish a statutory small business commissioner to empower small businesses to resolve disputes with larger businesses which they supply. Ministers claim the measure help small businesses take action more quickly and cheaply than going to court and promote culture change on late payments.
Reform of the business rates appeals system
This measures follows research conducted in 2014 showing that many business rates appeals are made with little supporting evidence and take too long to resolve. It will introduce a reformed appeals system built around three stages, 'check, challenge, appeal'. Ministers say the reforms will benefit businesses by making the system more transparent and easier to navigate and ensure that businesses can be confident their valuations are correct and that they are paying the right amount of business rates.
Introduction of a legal obligation for insurance claims to be paid within a reasonable timeframe
There is currently no clear requirement for insurers to pay undisputed claims to businesses in a reasonable amount of time, particularly when it come to companies recovering from fires and floods. The Bill introduces such a requirement into every contract of insurance.
Business impact target for new regulation
The 2015 Small Business Act introduced a target for the government to publish and then report on, their performance against a deregulation target in terms of the economic impact to business of new regulation that comes into force. The Enterprise Bill proposes a new measure that extends the target to national regulators. Ministers say the measure will reduce regulatory burdens on businesses and provide greater incentives for regulators to design and deliver policies that better meet the needs of business.
The Primary Authority scheme was introduced in 2009 and aims to provide greater regulatory consistency and certainty for businesses that operate across a number of different local authority areas. The government says more than 7,000 companies have used the scheme but rules on eligibility mean that it is disproportionately larger businesses who are able to access the benefits. Ministers intend to simplify the scheme to make it easier for small businesses and pre-starts to use it.
New powers for government to fund new broadband projects
This measures updates the Industrial Development Act 1982 and enables the government to to make grants or loans towards the cost of improving electronic communications facilities in any area of the UK. It also increases the project threshold for providing financial assistance to businesses from Â£10m to Â£30m, and enables the government to support the roll-out of communications networks and services across Britain, including remote areas.
Preventing misuse of the term 'apprenticeship'
This measures makes it an offence for a person to provide or offer a course or training as an apprenticeship if it is not a statutory apprenticeship.