Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill – Access to funding for SME’s

Following its first reading in Parliament, The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which includes proposed amendments to the Companies Act 2006 and the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, has been published.

In a follow up to our first article giving some initial thoughts from the Queens Speech, we now consider some of the impacts the published Bill will have.

In the past SME’s have struggled with gaining extensive access to funding but the Bill seeks to address this specifically by improving the availability and sources of investment. Some of the mechanisms introduced to do just this include opening up access to small business credit data thus making it easier to seek loans from a lender rather than a bank. In addition, the introduction of ‘cheque imaging’ to speed up cheque clearing from six to two days and increased trade credit availability up to a potential £1.8 billion by enabling HMRC to share non-financial VAT registration data on a controlled basis to qualifying organisations, will aid SMEs in not only start up but in prospering through growth and development.

The Bill also brings with it a duty of accountability whereby Government will be required to publish a target on the impact of regulatory burdens. Essentially it hopes to cut down on red tape by ensuring regulations affecting business are reviewed and remain effective.

In 2013, the number of foreign entrepreneurs heading to the UK to start new businesses more than doubled in a year. At least 14% of start up businesses were formed by immigrant entrepreneurs.  As one of the fastest growing types of businesses in the world, SME’s should welcome the promise of making the UK a ‘most attractive place to start, finance and grow a business’. The Bill will set this in motion by increasing transparency around who owns and controls UK companies; and helping deter and sanction those who hide their interests and facilitate illegal gains.

Other measures include introducing fairness in the workplace by for example removing the exclusivity clauses in employer’s so called zero hours contracts that tied them to one employer. Andrew Firman, Partner at Carter Lemon Camerons LLP comments “This has to be the right way forward in an employment climate where the increasingly transitory nature of the engagement of a worker’s skills and ability to work so as to serve an employer’s flexibility requirements must not be allowed to restrict the ability of the worker to offer those skills elsewhere in order to make a decent living.”

As a vital part of the UK economy, it seems as though the avenue for SME growth including higher efficiency and innovation has finally been addressed.  Whether you are interested in setting up a small to medium business or focusing on compounding your current structure, Carter Lemon Camerons LLP is able to offer comprehensive advice in helping you achieve any short or long term goals.

Andrew Firman (Partner) and Naimi Shah (Trainee Solicitor)
Corporate and Commercial Team