Queen's Speech: What small businesses need to know
Posted: Wed 27th May 2015
The Queen has outlined the government's plans for new legislation. Here are the Bills of most interest to small business owners plus reaction from entrepreneurs and enterprise experts.
This Bill is most relevant to small business owners and as previously outlined by business secretary Sajid Javid the government has pledged to reduce the burden of bureaucracy on businesses by cutting red tape by Â£10bn. For the first time independent regulators will be required to contribute to the target.
The Bill also proposes the introduction of a Small Business Conciliation Service to settle dispute between small and large companies particularly over payment and pledges reform of business rates before the 2017 revaluation including modernising of the appeals system.
In addition, the government said it will introduce "other measures to help strengthen the UK's competitiveness and back businesses to create jobs". What the specific measures are though have not been revealed.
According to the government the aim of the Enterprise Bill is to:
cement the UK's position as the best place in Europe to start and grow a business, by cutting red tape and making it easier for small businesses to resolve disputes quickly and easily
reward entrepreneurship, generate jobs and higher wages for all, and offer people opportunity at every stage of their lives
Other Bills of interest to small business owners are:
National Insurance Contributions and Finance Bill
The Bill promises that there will be no increases in income tax, VAT or national insurance before 2020 and that "no one working 30 hours on the minimum wage pays any income tax at all".
EU Referendum Bill
This Bill paves the way for an in/out referendum of Britain's membership of the EU. David Cameron has pledged to run the vote by 2017 at the latest.
Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill
The Bill aims to create two million more jobs and three million new apprenticeships.
Under this proposed legislation parents in England would be entitled to 30 hours a week of free childcare for 3-4 year old children for 38 weeks of the year.
This Bill will clamp down on illegal immigration and "put hard-working British families first". Under the changes it would be illegal for companies to advertise jobs overseas without first advertising them in the UK with a new enforcement body set up to tackle exploitation of immigrants.
The government says it will introduce measures to provide "affordable and reliable energy for businesses and families".
Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill
Under these plans powers over policing, housing and planning would be devolved to English cities with areas that want them being able to introduce elected mayors.
Investigatory Powers Bill
This Bill, dubbed a "snooper's charter" by critics, will revive proposals to give intelligence agencies tools to target communications data held by companies.
Trade Unions Bill
Under these proposals a 50% voting threshold for union strike ballot turnouts would be introduced.
Scotland will be given new tax and welfare powers.
This proposes more devolution of powers to the Welsh government including transport, energy and local government elections.
Northern Ireland Bill
This will give effect to the Stormont House Agreement in Northern Ireland.
Chris Bryce, chief executive, IPSE:
"Today the government sent a clear message that it is committed to backing businesses of all sizes. Supporting people who choose to be self-employed will be crucial to Government achieving its ambition of full employment. The number of self-employed people has risen dramatically over the past five years and we now have 4.5 million people working this way across the UK. This sector of the labour market will be essential to the continued growth of the economy and we welcome the focus this government is giving to businesses, in particular through its Enterprise Bill."
"Getting paid on time is one of the biggest worries that many self-employed people have about the success of their business and we hope the Conciliation Service will play a key role in improving the UK's payment culture. IPSE looks forward to engaging with Government on the design of the Conciliation Service to ensure the self-employed have somewhere to turn when they are faced with late payment by clients."
Mark Tighe, managing director, Catax Solutions:
"The fact that the Enterprise Bill's emphasis is on job creation is a disappointment with no clarification going forward on the tax relief regulation for UK businesses.
"UK businesses will allow the government to bed in, however, the Autumn Statement will be D-Day for the government to put its promises into practice, as they will need clear direction to develop and grow and truly become the engines of the UK economy."
John Longworth, director-general, British Chambers of Commerce:
"Simplifying life for small or growing businesses should be an objective shared across the political spectrum. If properly targeted the government's efforts to cut red tape for business could make a real difference saving time and money. However, as much of the most costly regulatory burdens are created by the EU, cutting red tape will be a challenge.
"The government also has a role to play in helping to alleviate both the cause and effect of late payments. But, in order to truly change the culture of late payment, we need to see a concerted effort from businesses themselves."
Tim Walford-Fitzgerald, HW Fisher & Company:
"The much-vaunted five-year "tax lock" is not as straightforward as it looks; it could be easily picked. Freezing rates doesn't mean a zero increase in the burden from income tax, VAT and national insurance.
"There are more subtle ways of increasing the revenue's tax take by adjusting the rules and thresholds. To meet his spending pledges, the Chancellor will inevitably need to introduce greater complexity to the tax system or nudge more people into higher tax brackets.
"As prices increase, a freeze on the VAT registration threshold will force more small businesses to register for VAT. That'll mean they then have to charge VAT to their customers.
"If wages rise faster than the increase in the higher rate band then 'fiscal drag' means more people paying income tax at 40% or 45%.
"In a period of low wage inflation, this makes less of a difference but as wages creep up, more people will face the punitive prospect of a 60% tax rate if the Â£100,000 personal allowance limit, which hasn't moved for five years already, isn't increased."
Darren Fell, CEO, Crunch Accounting:
"The new government's commitment to freeze income tax, VAT and NIC rates for the next five years is great news, and we really hope that their pledge to relax business regulations is more successful than their previous attempt. The speech put a lot of emphasis on economic recovery, which can only be a positive for freelancers and contractors in the UK."