The Forum today welcomed the Enterprise Bill, praising the bill for its symbolism and ambition in looking to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business.

The bill tackles two of the major issues for small firms – regulation and cash-flow issues. These are seen as significant obstacles to business development by 11% and 9% of SMEs respectively, according the latest SME finance monitor report.

The establishment of a statutory Small Business Commissioner to empower small businesses to resolve issues and handle complaints from small firms who are harshly treated by large firms is welcome. This builds on the services already provided by the Institute of Credit Management and the Forum (through its “hall of shame”) but much will depend on whether the individual selected from this role can actually promote culture change in the UK.

“The key will be if the Small Business Commissioner can make a multi-national business change its payment policies with the limited sanctions at their disposal. However we welcome the fact that this issue has been recognised as a barrier for our members, after numerous years of lobbying” stated Ian Cass, Managing Director of the Forum of Private Business.

The key for the Forum will be the Business Impact Target which is designed to reduce regulation by £10 billion, enabling them to free up resources and boost productivity.

“Successive governments have promised deregulation and not made any positive impact – but a reduction of £10 billion is extremely ambitious. It does need to be focused on support small firms as this is where regulation – often based on corporate best practice jars with small business culture.

Tax simplification – in particular combining PAYE and National Insurance contributions - would make a considerable impact as would an exemption from written risk assessments for all firms with under 20 employees and more proportionate regulatory requirements from agencies such as the Care Quality Commission (when evaluating Dentists, Care homes etc.) and the FCA (to head off the Pensions Crisis due next year).

More intriguing will be the duties of regulators and the inclusion of business views on how they have carried out their functions as part of their annual performance report.

“HMRC and other enforcement agencies refer to businesses as their “customers”. A little customer satisfaction monitoring is needed and in the past our members have been confused by conflicting reports from the same agency caused by over complication of the regulatory environment. Simplification of the statute book will have an impact on enforcement agencies as it will make it easier for them

“Simplification is a major theme for the Forum and measures such as the reform of the Business Rates Appeals System are helpful. If in doubt the Government should always err on the side of simplification” concluded Ian Cass.

Notes to editors
Representing thousands of small businesses across the UK – including retail, service providers and manufacturing companies – the Forum is recognised by the Government as one of the six main business support and lobby groups. It uses this position to influence decision-makers in the UK and Brussels on the issues that matter to small businesses.

SME finance monitor report can be found at

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About Forum of Private Business

The Forum of Private Business is a not-for-profit comprehensive business support organisation founded in 1977. Our membership is spread throughout the UK and primarily made up of companies that employ between 1-50 employees, helping them to manage employees, saving time, giving advice, support and protection where a business needs it.

We are a recognised leading authority on business issues and represent the interests of business owners on many consultative bodies. We have built a solid reputation, being influential in many areas of policy-making, in changing laws that affect small businesses, and we continue to campaign for the fair treatment of businesses within the UK.

Everything we do is about making sure our members’ businesses operate profitably. This means that every penny we make goes back in to supporting our members, providing the support and resources that will enable businesses to flourish and grow.