Tax & admin · 8 May 2017

Safeguarding self-employed sits at heart of FSB election manifesto

FSB election manifesto
Employment costs and business rate increases are set to hit small business owners in 2017

The UK’s political parties must commit to reducing the financial and administrative burden of running a small firm, according to the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) election manifesto.

As part of the FSB election manifesto, published to outline the needs of Britain’s self-employed workforce ahead of the general election in June, the organisation called on politicians to cut down the costs of doing business through a series of progressive policies.

Increasing the Employment Allowance – tax relief for the first £3,000 of the National Insurance (NI) bill – is central to FSB plans for supporting small business owners. The organisation estimated owners are set for added employment costs of £2,600 in 2017, due to auto-enrolment and minimum wage increases.

Raising the £3,000 Employment Allowance to £4,000 would increase job growth and salaries in the labour market, and enable small business owners to make future investment and grow their company.

The FSB election manifesto also called on politicians to simplify the tax system for the self-employed. Progressive taxation would exempt firms under the £85,000 VAT threshold from the proposed Making Tax Digital initiative and scrap recent IR35 reforms for contractors, according to FSB.

Reform to a system of business rates “not fit for purpose” was outlined as vital to the survival of thousands of small companies.

Government measures to protect vulnerable firms, including a £435m rate relief package, were simply “sticking plasters” over the evident problems, according to FSB. A new independent commission would “take politics out of the process” and protect Britain’s high streets.

The manifesto also highlighted the significant number of small business owners paying themselves below the National Living Wage, and called on all parties to not increase class 4 NICs for the self-employed.

Earnings uncertainty was cited by 44 per cent of FSB members as the single biggest challenge to running their business, and the FSB election manifesto has laid out to politicians the measure needed to respond to the financial risks of running a small firm.

Commenting on the FSB election manifesto, national chairman Mike Cherry said meeting the needs of small business owners should be a priority for political parties.

“The UK’s army of 4.8 million self-employed are the backbone of this country and should be recognised for the value they add both to the economy and their local communities,” Cherry said in a statement.

Cherry added: “Small businesses and the self-employed will be vital to a successful post-Brexit economy. Politicians seeking their votes should be on their side and against hitting them with extra costs.”

Among other policy proposals outlined in the FSB election manifesto, the organisation encouraged stronger legal action against late payments. To prepare small business owners for Brexit, the FSB recommended the introduction of export vouchers and tax credits to enable trading with new international markets.

Check out our coverage of the business rates increases affecting smaller firms

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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