Earlier this week, former Conservative MP Paul Uppal was appointed the Small Business Commissioner. In a newly-established role, Mr Uppal has been tasked with transforming Britain into the ‘best place in the world for new entrepreneurs’. The clear disconnect between small business owners and the Government suggests that he has quite a job on his hands.
With a remit to empower small businesses, the Government have revealed he will be crucial in helping UK small businesses ‘resolve disputes with larger businesses and help drive a culture change in payment practices.’
Combating the late payment epidemic which plagues thousands of UK freelancers, contractors and small businesses, shows that the Government are perhaps serious about actively supporting the independent workforce at long last. Needless to say though, actions speak louder than words.
The Commissioner will become the new go-between from UK small business to Government. As well as tackling late payment, he has the rare opportunity to voice the very real, pressing concerns that freelancers and contractors have with regards to IR35 reform and the tax system, directly to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark.
Recent changes to IR35 legislation and the ongoing clampdown on tax avoidance has led 95% of freelancers to state that they believe the benefits of working independently are being reduced. In addition to this, 65% do not have faith in Theresa May and her Cabinet.
It’s time the broken bridges were rebuilt, and this fractured, but undoubtedly vital relationship was mended. While late payment is undoubtedly a huge issue, the growing disconnect between the self-employed and the Government, not to mention ongoing IR35 and tax concerns are arguably of equal importance.
On his appointment, The Commissioner outlined his intentions to help Britain become a global hub for business owners.
“Successful businesses are built on integrity, entrepreneurial spirit and trusting relationships and I want to highlight that Britain can be the best place in the world for new entrepreneurs to establish and grow their own businesses.”
For the Commissioner’s vision to have any chance of becoming reality, and to truly champion small business, we urge him to look long and hard at the reasons why many independent workers have little to no confidence in the Government.
Independent workers need greater support from Government. They also need a tax system which works for them and not against them. Achieve this and the new Small Business Commissioner would liberate the UK’s independent workforce, win the support of our sector and make positive strides towards rebuilding a trusting relationship between small business and the Government, and one which he would clearly value.