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Helping the Business Garden Grow

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

Last week saw the introduction to Parliament of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, designed to remove barriers to growth for small firms, bolster a sustainable recovery and create jobs.

The Bill intends to ensure that those businesses that play by the rules cannot be undercut by those that break the law. Small businesses will have access to finance and enjoy reduced red tape to enable them to thrive and be confident in the rule of the law and that they are not disadvantaged by those who do not play ball.

Eleven measures are included in the Bill:

  1. Access to Finance
  2. Regulatory Reform
  3. Public Sector Procurement
  4. The Pubs Code Adjudicator and the Pubs Code
  5. Childcare and schools
  6. Education Evaluation
  7. Companies:  Transparency
  8. Company filing requirements
  9. Directors disqualification
  10. Insolvency
  11. Employment

Access to Finance

Many small businesses still struggle to secure funding they need to grow, so this Bill will introduce measures to improve their access to finance by removing legal barriers to invoice finance. As well as a number of other measures greater competition in banking will be encouraged by improving the ability of challenger banks and alternative finance providers to conduct accurate risk assessments and making it easier for SME’s to seek a loan from a lender other than their bank.

Regulatory Reform

Here the government aims to reduce red tape that can be burdensome to businesses of any size. One measure will be a commitment by the government to create a more streamlined process to incorporate a new company and register for tax purposes.

Public Sector Procurement

The government recognises that there should be a more simple and consistent approach to recruitment across all public sector authorities so that small businesses can gain better and more direct access to this market. It is therefore intended that procurement practices will become more streamlined and efficient.

Companies:  Transparency

A ‘PSC register’ will require UK companies to keep a log of people with significant control over the company, with the intention of increasing transparency as to who ultimately owns and controls UK companies. This should also help deter, identify and sanction those who hide their interest in UK companies to aid illegal activities.

Company Filing Requirements

The current filing requirements will be simplified by removing duplication and complexity and improving the accuracy and integrity of the public companies register.

Directors’ Disqualification

By modernising and strengthening the director disqualification regime both the business community and consumers will have greater confidence that transgressors will be barred as directors. Creditors will also have more opportunities to obtain compensation where they have suffered from director misconduct.


Insolvency law will become more streamlined by removing unnecessary costs and ensure effective oversight of insolvency practitioners.


A number of measures to be introduced include:

  • Deter business non-payment of employment tribunal awards by creating strong financial consequences of non-payment.
  • Increase the penalties imposed on employers that underpay their workers in breach of the National Minimum Wage legislation.
  • Make exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts invalid and unenforceable so that no one is locked into a contract without any guarantee of paid work. This will enable employers and employees alike to benefit from the flexibility of zero hours contracts whilst, at the same time, addressing abuse of these contracts.

By Andy Vessey


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