GUEST BLOG: Phil McCabe takes stock one year into the campaign to make life easier for small businesses

We launched Get Britain Trading in February last year and already we have seen some successes, but there is still a long way to go if we are to forge a commercial culture that gives entrepreneurs every chance of driving economic growth.

At its core the campaign, which caused a considerable media fanfare, celebrates the significant role played by small businesses in the UK's economy and seeks to address the barriers they face.

We originally focused on four key areas - improving cash flow, making tax simple and proportionate, creating employment and improving skills, and creating opportunities for growth.

An FPB survey showed that the vast majority of businesses have seen significant cost increases during the past year, so reducing business costs is now a pillar for the second year of the campaign, which has been launched at an event in Parliament this week.

One of our achievements has been to bring business owners and their elected representatives closer together to increase understanding. The business buddy initiative matched around 100 MPs, MSPs and Members of the Welsh Assembly with firms in their constituencies - giving politicians valuable 'work experience' of the realities of business life.

Further, representing our many micro business members - the small business sector tasked with dragging the economy out of the doldrums - we have become the secretariat of the all-party parliamentary micro business group at the heart of Westminster.

We are also one of the founding organisations of the "get mentoring" scheme, providing businesses with a community of mentors and the experience, advice and guidance they need to overcome obstacles in their way to trade successfully.

We have made progress on specific policy issues; for example on helping firms access finance through a greater range of funding options other than just the high street banks, which are facing alienation from small business customers.

We are tackling late payment by heading up a campaign group of leading trade organisations, sitting on the government's working group and by providing our members with the tools they need to minimise the problem.

There has already been a raft of government policies aimed at giving business owners greater control over their staffing decisions and others aimed at boosting training and skills in the UK. We will monitor these closely to make sure they work properly for our members - and there is still much to do elsewhere.

Our tax lobbying was central to encouraging the government to suspend the unpopular and punitive HMRC small business records checks regime, in influencing the Chancellor's decision to scrap and reduce scheduled fuel duty increases and, to the great relief of small shop owners and online traders everywhere, finally close the Channel Islands VAT loophole that has allowed large retailers to move off-shore to avoid paying tax, significantly undercutting their smaller competitors that are unable to follow suit.

But we are just at the beginning. The Channel Islands are challenging the government's decision in court, the spectre of HMRC's records checks looms large, energy companies are putting up prices, leading to spiralling utilities bills, and accessing affordable finance from banks is still a major problem.

On top of all this there are the perennial, continuing problems of disproportionate taxation and over-regulation, despite several government initiatives. There is much more to do, and with Get Britain Trading 2012 we are providing a solid foundation on which to do it.

For more information on the Get Britain Trading campaign click here.

We use cookies to create the most secure and effective website possible for our customers. Full details can be found here