Last night I attended the London Region policy forum for the Federation of Small businesses. Various topics were discussed with the hot topics being the governments apprenticeship scheme and the problems with parking.
The issue for small business with apprenticeship schemes revolve around the "business readyness" of candidates and the length of the contracts for apprenticeships. Whilst many small firms would be interested in taking on apprentices and training them up, for small companies with two or three people, the current commitment requirements make it economically unfeasable for such commitments to be taken. As with most government sponsored schemes, the scheme is inflexible and more suited to multi national firms rather than small business.
The issues with parking are well documented. Barnet has proven to be a bit of a case study in how to cock things up. Delegates from other London Boroughs were keen to hear the lessons to be learned from Barnet. The consensus view was that many of the problems could have been avoided with proper consultation. Delegates were interested to hear that the parking budget in Barnet is underfunded by approx £1 million. It seems that delegates were unsurprised that the scheme works badly for residents, business and council.
The other issue which was discussed was business rates. In 2013 local Councils get control of this. The position of the FSB is to oppose this. The worry is that this will cause all manner of issues and local authorities have not demonstrated that they are best placed to understand the needs of business to do a good job.
Although there are many challenges facing us with the current economic climate, the small business sector is one of the most important and undervalued sectors of all. The FSB offers many benefits to members, including free legal advice, assistance with tax matters and insurance, preferential rates on financial products as well as its lobbying function. I'd urge all small business owners to join and participate.
You can find more out here - http://www.fsb.org.uk/ - if you run a small business, please take a look.