Press release

Government sets out new support on Small Business Saturday

Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock sets out the government’s offer to make it easier for small businesses to grow and create jobs.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


As part of the government’s long term economic plan, and following the Autumn Statement, Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock is today (7 December 2013) setting out the government’s offer to make it easier for small businesses to grow and create jobs.

Small Business: GREAT Ambition is a commitment to go-getting firms. It sets out how government can make it easier for small businesses to grow as the country gets behind local traders on Small Business Saturday.

These new measures will remove some of the barriers small businesses face, improve the business environment and make it easier for them to fulfil their potential.

Today’s announcements and commitments include:

  • brand new broadband vouchers – 22 cities across the UK will benefit from up to £100 million of broadband vouchers worth up to £3,000 each to help more small firms boost their business by accessing faster and better broadband connectivity
  • a fairer deal on energy – an agreement from the major energy firms to end auto-rollovers for business customers, limit back billing, increase transparency of contract terms and make switching easier
  • access to £230 billion of public sector contracts – implementing Lord Young’s recommendations, which were accepted by the Prime Minister in May 2013, to make it easier and simpler for small firms to win public sector business
  • tackling late payment of small firms – we will ensure that from now on all small businesses who supply the public sector in a supply chain will be paid at the same time as we pay our big contractors. And we will consult on new measures to tackle late payment in the private sector

This follows a substantive package of support in this week’s Autumn Statement for small businesses, which included an extension of the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief to March 2015, a business rates discount of up to £1,000 for retail premises with a rateable value up to £50,000 and making it cheaper to employ staff aged under 21.

Small businesses will also benefit from an additional £250 million being made available to the British Business Bank to improve access to finance, announced by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable earlier this week. Also a further £160 million will allow the successful Start Up Loans scheme to be extended to more entrepreneurs.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Small and medium sized companies up and down the country often raise the issue of late payment with me. Cashflow is critical to the good functioning of daily business. If bills are not paid on time this can threaten the survival of otherwise healthy businesses. We are enforcing prompt payment throughout the public sector and asking what more we can also do to get credit flowing in the private sector.

The government is also investing an extra £250 million in the British Business Bank which I established last year to help SMEs access finance through challenger banks or alternative funding providers, such as angel investors or crowd funding.

Enterprise and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:

I’m delighted that on the national day for small businesses, Small Business Saturday, we can demonstrate our commitment to making it easier for small businesses to grow.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the British economy and responsible for nearly half the job creation in the UK. That’s why we are removing barriers to growth and supporting them, so that they can create jobs and compete in the global race.

Small Business: GREAT Ambition sets out how BIS will be the champion of small business across government, making it easier for small businesses to:

  • finance business growth by creating the right banking and investment environment and the most supportive tax regime in the world
  • hire people by making employment processes more straightforward and promoting a more skilled workforce
  • develop new ideas and products by helping businesses get access to the expertise, equipment and funding they need to turn great ideas into reality
  • break into new markets by removing barriers to certain sectors and providing advice and support for businesses trying to export
  • get the right support at the right time by making business support schemes easier to find and more relevant
  • get on with doing business by making sure regulation and the way it is enforced is proportionate and pro-growth

This includes our commitment to making business support easier to access. We are rationalising the number of different support schemes and joining them up so that businesses can go to 1 place to get the help they need. Business support at local level will also be brought together through Growth Hubs, providing a single place on their doorstep where businesses can go to get help.

This sits alongside our new Business is GREAT campaign, which points businesses to sources of advice and support that can help them grow, and celebrates small businesses that have grown with the help of government support.

Small Business: GREAT Ambition also states that Lord Young will conduct an Enterprise Education Review and make recommendations on how to inspire more people with the entrepreneurial spirit needed to succeed in employment or enterprise. He will report back in summer 2014 on his findings.

Notes to editors:

  1. Small Business: GREAT Ambition sets out how the government will:
    • increase support for innovation through a £50 million investment in popular Smart grants for small firms, 3 new ‘Launchpad’ competitions to spur on innovation clusters and new networks to showcase innovative small firms to investors
    • firms wanting to export will be able to benefit from greater support from UK Export Finance. We are doubling the number of regional Export Finance Advisors, simplifying application forms and working with the banks to make them more aware of UKEF support and to provide clearer information that can be passed on to customers
    • the government, the British Bankers Association and the major banks will work together to create a strengthened referral process by the end of 2014, so that business which may be declined finance can be signposted to an even wider range of other finance providers, brokers and advisors
    • small businesses will also be given a stronger voice to challenge heavy-handed regulation, including a new independent Small Business Appeals Champion in every non-economic regulator. These Champions will have responsibility for making sure small businesses have a proper route of appeal and we will consult on the detail of these reforms in early 2014
  2. Autumn Statement measures announced this week to support small businesses included:
    • business rates inflation increases are being capped at 2% for 2014-15; with the doubling of the small business rate relief (SBRR) continuing until March 2015
    • a new £1,000 discount on business rates bills for small shops, pubs and restaurants with rateable values of less than £50,000
    • from April 2014, if a business in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief wants to expand, they will now retain the relief on their first property for twelve months
    • if businesses move into a long-term empty retail premises, they will get a 50% discount on their business rates bill for 18 months – bringing businesses back to our high streets
    • Employer National Insurance will be abolished for under 21 year olds on earnings under £813 per week (£42,285 per year) from April 2015, significantly reducing the cost of employing young people. This will make it over £500 cheaper to employ an under 21 year old earning £12,000 and over £1,000 cheaper to employ an under 21 year old earning £16,000
    • government has also cancelled the planned September increase in fuel duty. Thanks to the government’s action on fuel duty, the average small business with a van will save £1,300 on petrol by 2015
  3. The government also published alongside the Autumn Statement a guide to the services provided by HMRC to small businesses. For more information see Supporting Small Business: Making tax easier, quicker and simpler
Published 7 December 2013