The voice of a million small businesses

Over the past five years, the UK has become one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor puts the UK at number one in Europe and number four globally. This has been enabled by the low costs of start-up entry, accessible technology, a flexible economy […]

Over the past five years, the UK has become one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor puts the UK at number one in Europe and number four globally. This has been enabled by the low costs of start-up entry, accessible technology, a flexible economy and a positive attitude towards self-starters and entrepreneurship; from the media, large corporates, and government.

As organisations representing small businesses of all shapes and sizes, reflecting the new world of work, from every region, we are committed to ensuring the UK retains its leading global entrepreneurship position.

Together, we represent over a million small businesses and self-employed individuals and recognise that there are key factors that have enabled them to flourish. We want to know that those negotiating Britain’s future can ensure these conditions remain in place, as Brexit deals are negotiated and a new government makes its mark. To achieve that, we feel work and commitment is required around:

Flexible workforce
We call on the government to provide clear and unequivocal reaffirmation of the long-term residence rights of EU citizens currently working in the UK. We also call for the Government to commit to keeping our labour market flexible which gives the UK a real comparative advantage over our European competitors.

Workable tax regime
While the Government has already committed to a lowering of Corporation Tax, we call for a commitment to no increases to National Insurance, and agreement from departments that consultation will continue to be carried out with those representing small firms ahead of introducing any further tax changes. For example quarterly digital tax data and any potential exemptions and reforms to Corporation Tax.

Accessible business support
Many variations of support have been introduced over the years, from Business Link to Growth Vouchers and Growth Accelerator. A percentage of these programmes have been underpinned by EU funds. We would like to see a review of funding available for business support and plans for its expenditure.

International trade for all
One in five small firms currently exports. Exporting increases productivity and leads to employment and growth. But while Brexit has brought opportunity, it has brought complication and a squeeze on margins for some of the smallest firms. There has never been a more critical time to encourage British firms to take their business to the world and offer help to navigate new issues. We recommend government experiments with export support, for the smallest of firms, in the form of Export Vouchers and Export Tax Credits, and rapidly show progress on trade deals with countries eager to do business including the US, China, Australia and New Zealand.

Consultation with small business
To ensure that small business views are taken into account in trade deals and domestic policy, we hereby form a Small Business Taskforce to offer government a clear route to over a million small businesses and self-employed individuals.

The taskforce jointly makes these five recommendations and is prepared to help the Government work on fresh plans of what business support and procurement could look like in a post-Brexit world. We are in tandem working on policy recommendations to share with Government.

We welcome the opportunity to work closely with Government to ensure the small business base of Britain can continue to prosper, delivering economic and social returns to our country.


*While not official members of the taskforce, the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce will work with us on an issue-by-issue basis.

About Bright Ideas Trust
Bright Ideas Trust focuses on helping young people aged between 16 and 30 years, in particular those who are more marginalised and those not in employment, education or training (“NEET”), to enable them to start their own business. BIT provides a tailored and comprehensive package of business advice and support including providing links with experienced business mentors and supporting access to start-up finance.

About the Centre for Entrepreneurs
The Centre for Entrepreneurs promotes the role of entrepreneurs in creating economic growth and social well-being. It is an independent non-profit think tank founded and chaired by Sunday Times columnist and serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson and housed within the Legatum Institute. From championing migrant entrepreneurs and advocating support for ex-offender entrepreneurs, to uncovering how entrepreneurs are reviving declined seaside towns and proving the growth ambition of women entrepreneurs – among many other topics – the Centre leads public debate on how to make Britain more entrepreneurial. It is also home to the StartUp Britain campaign which tours the country to promote entrepreneurship.

About Coadec
Founded by tech entrepreneurs, The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec) is a non-profit that campaigns for policies to support digital startups in the UK. We conduct research, host events, and run campaigns on behalf of the UK’s startup community. We work with digital startups and policymakers to create better policy for the digital economy.

About Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation is a small business network with more than 75,000 members. Its aim is to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses – through expert advice, events, networking and a modern membership. Enterprise Nation was founded in 2005 by Emma Jones MBE also co-founder of StartUp Britain and one of the Prime Minister’s Trade Ambassadors.

About EISA
The Enterprise Investment Scheme Association (EISA) is the trade body for both the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme(SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) in the UK. EISA supports and promotes policies and initiatives that facilitate the smooth flow of risk equity capital from private individuals to smaller companies thereby benefitting the UK economy.

About Global Entrepreneurship Week
Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest entrepreneurship campaign. Created in the UK, over the last decade GEW has engaged millions of people in entrepreneurship and helped thousands of UK entrepreneurs start businesses.

ICAEW is a world leading professional membership organisation. Our members have the knowledge, skills and commitment to maintain the highest professional standards and integrity. Together we contribute to the success of businesses around the world.

About IPSE
IPSE represents 21,000 freelancers, contractors and consultants from every sector of the economy and it is our ambition to become the voice for the 4.6million self-employed people across the UK.

NACUE is the leading membership organisation for engaging students in enterprise, set up by students for students. We give college and university students the opportunity to boost their skills, confidence and aspirations through supporting student-led enterprise societies, running inspiring events and advocating practical learning.

About National Enterprise Network
National Enterprise Network is a unique membership body representing the enterprise support sector across England. We believe our members are crucial to England’s economic growth and our role is to support their work, we represent their interests, promote the results they achieve and connect them with opportunities for even greater success.

About the RSA
The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action. It believes that all human beings have creative capacities that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver a 21st century enlightenment. The RSA works to bring about the conditions for this change, not just amongst its diverse 28,000-strong global Fellowship, but also in institutions and communities. By sharing powerful ideas and carrying out cutting-edge research, it builds networks and opportunities for people to collaborate – creating fulfilling lives and a flourishing society.

About Social Enterprise UK
The national body for social enterprise and a voice for the the 70,000 social enterprises in the UK. These enterprises contribute £18.5 billion to the UK economy and employ almost a million people.

About The Entrepreneurs Network
The Entrepreneurs Network is a think tank for the ambitious owners of Britain’s fastest growing businesses and aspirational entrepreneurs. Through research, events and the media, The Entrepreneurs Network bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and policymakers with the aim of helping to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business. The Entrepreneurs Network is also the Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Entrepreneurship.