News in brief: Sunday trading, FSB, Budget, red tape, asset finance

News in brief
News in brief

Extended Sunday trading hours plans scrapped

Plans to extend Sunday opening hours have been thwarted by a vote in the House of Commons. The government was beaten by 317 votes to 286 – including 25 Tory MP votes against.

SNP MPs voted against the bill over concerns it would affect the wages of Scottish workers, despite the fact that the bill would not have applied north of the border. Business secretary Sajid Javid called the move “childish and hypocritical” as similar measures are already in place in Scotland.

However, Federation of Small Businesses policy director Mike Cherry has called the result of the vote “a major win for small businesses across England and Wales.”

Cherry said: “Our members have been unconvinced of the economic case for relaxing Sunday trading rules and there has been no impact assessment to support the proposals…The current system can be seen as a great British compromise which allows families to spend time together, employees to work if they wish to, and provides much needed support for smaller retailers within their communities.”

FSB chairman suspended

The national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses has been suspended following allegations of sexual impropriety, it has been reported.

According to the Times, chairman of the FSB has been suspended following a complaint about his behaviour at the organisation’s Westminster conference last month.

FSB head of external affairs has stated that an internal investigation is continuing and the board will take appropriate action after the investigation is complete.

Tax recommendations for the upcoming Budget

In preparation for the Budget announcement next week, one tax firm has called on the Chancellor to simplify the tax system for smaller businesses.

Smith & Williamson, the accountancy, investment management and tax group, has written an open letter to the Chancellor to make the following recommendations:

  • Ease the introduction of the new Making Tax Digital regime, which amounts to a digital revolution for taxpayers,
  • No more tinkering: with Entrepreneurs’ relief, enterprise investment scheme (EIS), seed EIS, and venture capital schemes
  • Smooth the many marginal rates of tax which currently distort taxpayer behaviour and which can deter aspiration
  • Cut the amount of tax legislation, which has grown substantially in recent years and is getting more complicated each year, adding to the red tape businesses must deal with and making it easier for private and corporate taxpayers to make innocent mistakes
  • Abolish stamp duty land tax for people who downsize to a cheaper property.

Smith & Williamson national tax director Tina Riches says: “I think it is crucial to ensure that the new Making Tax Digital system works. Coupled with a more straightforward, flatter tax system with fewer tax reliefs and lower rates would mean that tax becomes simpler.

“The introduction of more even rates of tax would help to reward enterprise and is likely to boost revenues.”

New regulatory unit will cut red tape for SMEs

The Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) and National Measurement and Regulation Office (NMRO) are being brought together into a single BIS directorate from 1 April 2016 to focus on regulation and enforcement.

BRDO is currently responsible for improving the way in which local and national regulators enforce regulations, saving money for business and taxpayers. NMRO currently operates as an Executive Agency within BIS, sponsored by BRDO, aiming to simplify technical regulation for the benefit of UK businesses.

The new Regulatory Delivery directorate will be led by the existing BRDO Director, Graham Russell and report to Small Business, Industry and Enterprise Minister, Anna Soubry. The directorate will work to ensure that the way regulation is enforced is proportionate and risk based. It will deliver existing functions such as Primary Authority, legal metrology and hallmarking policy, technical regulation and enforcement work.

Asset financing on the rise

New business in the asset finance industry grew by 3% in January compared with the same month last year – the twenty-eighth consecutive month of growth.

This is according to the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) which also found that commercial vehicle finance and car finance grew in January by 6% and 4% respectively, while plant and machinery finance fell by 7% over the same period.

Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, FLA head of research and chief economist at the FLA Geraldine Kilkelly said: “Growth continued in the asset finance market in January, albeit at a slower rate than we have seen in recent months. A 17% fall in construction plant finance contributed to the overall contraction in plant and machinery finance and mirrors trends in the wider construction sector.”

Kilkelly claimed that asset finance continues to be an important source of finance for SMEs. More than £16 billion of asset finance new business went to support SME investment in machinery and equipment last year.