The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has released an outline of the Enterprise Bill, designed to make the UK “the best place in Europe to start a business”.
Top line issues addressed in the bill include measures to address late payments both from suppliers and insurance payouts and the amount of red tape encountered by small businesses.
The government announcement also outlines ways in which small businesses can challenge business rates they believe to be unreasonable. They include making the appeal process more transparent and “easier to navigate”, increasing confidence in valuations and a route to recourse based on a “check, challenge, appeal” structure.
The bill also lays out plans for implementing a “legal obligation for insurance claims to be paid within a reasonable timeframe”.
Steps to make this feasible include the mandatory inclusion in every insurance contract for sums to be paid within a pre-determined timeframe and legal incentives for insurers to make payouts within said timeframes.
>See also: Small business commissioner analysed
Yesterday’s announcement also confirmed the creation of the office for a small business commissioner. While the specific powers attached to the office remain unclear, it is highlighted that the person appointed to the role will take on the task of supporting small businesses in disputes around late payments and offer advice on legal and regulatory requirements.
Another of the headline announcements is the extension of the Business Impact Target. This is the part of government policy aimed firmly at reducing red tape for SMEs. Additions announced yesterday include targeting the actions of national regulators for the first time and incentives for regulators to “design and deliver policies that better meet the need of businesses”.
A further part of the paper, and one not as easily predicted, is around the misuse of the word “apprenticeship” in business. This is designed to improve the offering for trainees, training providers and employers. By ensuring only the correct qualifications are rightly accredited, BIS believes confidence and value around apprenticeships will be significantly improved.
Business secretary Sajid Javid claimed the government is “committed to making sure the UK continues to be the best place in Europe to do business”.
“The Enterprise Bill will help do just that with measures to cut red tape, protect high-quality apprenticeships and deal with unfair payment practices hitting small firms,” he continued. “I firmly believe that to reap rewards for working people across the country we need to get behind our great British businesses.”
Sage European president Brendan Flattery welcomed the bill, calling it “good news for small & medium businesses.”
“They have worked tirelessly to create jobs and drive growth in the economy, and it is unacceptable that they are held back by late payment,” he said.
“The other pain point for small & medium businesses is red tape – in fact, it’s one of the top three concerns every time we survey our customers. So they will want to see this extension of the red tape target start to have a meaningful impact.”
Further reading: Building your business through apprenticeships