My aim for 2017
I am pleased to say that the Forum’s year has started on a very positive note with an influx of new members and with a number of new and exciting opportunities that will further enrich the member’s experience.
As MD of the Forum, my main priority for this year is to continue to ensure that our members are at the centre of everything we do and that they are represented in a way that ensures their voices are heard and acted upon. We will continue to advise Government and their agencies on the views of our members. We will also work hard to ensure that new initiatives are communicated clearly to Forum members and that they are fully supported through any changes avoiding any negative impact.
The post Brexit world
I attend the UKSMC Governance meeting to ensure we are kept up to date with what is going on with Brexit. Right now, the message is nothing has changed and to carry on as usual.
We continue to ask for a clear and simple sense of direction with a broad outline to ensure we can plan accordingly. We will continue to attend these meetings so that when Brexit changes do happen we will be able to keep members up to date with any changes immediately. Last year, the Forum wrote to key political figures outlining a 10 point Brexit plan for small businesses which we are still rallying for.
The new digital tax platform
The Government and HMRC are moving our tax affairs towards a new digital platform and many of you are already working with this online.
The Forum have been heavily involved and taking HMRC staff into member businesses to make sure that what is introduced is sensible, simple and does not create more work for small business owners. While you may say this is ambitious, bearing in mind HMRC’s past record, I feel our involvement is needed and will help in terms of HMRC’s implementation of these changes.
The new quarterly tax update
One issue that is causing concern to Forum members is the quarterly update, sometimes referred to as a quarterly return. HMRC say it is not a return, it’s a simple update that will be easily produced through current accounting practices and software. We are seeking further clarity on this and will let you know.
Fighting for publicans’ rights
The behaviour of the large pub operating companies has been a cause of concern for a number of years to members in the hospitality sector. Greg Mullholland has been a voice and champion for publicans in the House of Commons for a number of years and the Forum is happy to support his work and that of the British Pub Confederation. With the introduction of the new pub code and its adjudicator, Mr Paul Newby, we are fighting with the Confederation for publicans’ rights and those of our affected members.
I have written to Mr Newby and the Small Business Minister regarding the members’ concerns about the way the Pubs code is being implemented and to date the PCA has done little to change matters. We all hope that this will change in the coming months and as soon as it does, I will let you know.
We are working with the Association of Company Registration Agents with a particular focus on the work of Companies House, who registers companies quickly with no due diligence or money laundering checks that the agents have to comply with.
This Forum has two main concerns:
- We need the perceived value of British companies to be at its height as it is vital to our role as a global trading economy. This becomes paramount with Brexit looming and so registering companies with no checks becomes a potential future time bomb. If I were an unscrupulous Eastern European criminal I know where I would go to register my business – and this is an exceptionally worrying state of affairs.
- It creates more work for Forum member companies, the reason you have to fill in forms on people of significant control is because it isn’t recorded when the company is registered!
Mergers - exception to the duty to refer in markets of insufficient importance
We completed a consultation document for the CMA in relation to this and we have responded saying that we feel this could possibly impact our members. One thing we consistently point out to government and agencies like the CMA is that they need to get better at stating clearly what are the benefits of the change and what the issues are that may arise from such a change. Then we can communicate this more clearly to our members.
Watch this space
Don't forget to look out for my next update. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter for all my latest news and views @IanCassMD
I hope that you have found this of interest and I look forward to updating you again soon.