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Business: A Small Business Taskforce for Post-Brexit Britain

The vote to leave the European Union was a shock for many of Britain’s entrepreneurs. Business owners don’t like political uncertainty, and the potential disruption of trade and travel with the continent hasn’t gone down well. However, as economic indicators attest – it’s business as usual for most entrepreneurs, not least because the key decisions around Brexit have yet to be decided.
Whatever the final negotiations, we should ensure it limits the damage and discouragement of Britain’s small business owners. That’s why a group of organizations have come together to create the Small Business Taskforce. Besides us at The Entrepreneurs Network, the Small Business Taskforce includes Enterprise Nation (whose founderEmma Jones leads it), ICAEWIPSE, Bright Ideas TrustGlobal Entrepreneurship WeekNACUESocial Enterprise UK, Coadec,CFENational Enterprise NetworkRSA & EISATogether, we represent over a million small businesses and self-employed individuals, and besides an improved dialogue, we are calling on the government to ensure our labor market remains flexible, the tax regime reasonable, business support stable and our focus international:
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 labor 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 programs 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.
This is just the beginning. As Brexit unfolds, we develop further policy suggestions. (Check out IPSE’s six-point plan to make Brexit work for an indication of areas this might cover.)
Britain’s entrepreneurs are fighting fit. We are one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business and London is unofficially (but unequivocally) the business capital of Europe. Provided we can remain open, competitive and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the EU, Britain will continue to flourish. At the moment, the loudest voices are battling it out between the so-called “hard” and “soft” Brexit. In truth, we will get something in between. And if it turns out be the sort of Goldilocks solution promoted by Baron Hague of Richmond – former leader of the Conservative Party – in this thoughtful article, Britain’s entrepreneurs will do just fine.
Hague concludes: “The answer is to resist the trap of thinking soft or hard. Think what could actually be negotiated, and would be in the best interests of both us and them. And then let’s all support it.” The Small Business Taskforce will ensure that when these interests are weighed up, those of small business owners and entrepreneurs are fairly represented.


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