on the table at FSB Business Forum with Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson
THE Sefton and Ormskirk branch of the
Federation of Small Businesses welcomed Bill Esterson, Sefton Central MP and
Shadow Business Minister, at a business forum to discuss the implications of
The event took place, on Thursday, 23 February 2017, at Formby Hall Golf Resort
and Spa. Bill and members of the branch were joined by business owners from
across the constituency and beyond to discuss the implications of Brexit and
what they want to see from the imminent negotiations.
The forum was chaired by Southport based Michael Sandys, partner at Guy Williams
Layton, in Liverpool and new Chairman of the Sefton and Ormskirk branch.
FSB Sefton and Ormskirk branch Chairman Michael Sandys said:- "FSB
provides a platform for business owners and it is important that their ideas,
opinions and concerns on Brexit are listened to and acted on when Article 50 is
triggered and talks to leave the EU begin in earnest.
We were delighted to do this with Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson, who is in a
prominent position to influence negotiations as Shadow Minister for Business,
Energy and Industrial Strategy, and now International Trade.
FSB wants a bold and ambitious free trade agreement so our members can continue
to operate within European markets, and transitional arrangements that steer the
UK well clear of a Brexit cliff edge. We are also calling for certainty over
post Brexit business support funding, more support to boost exporting and help
firms trade with the world's fastest growing markets and guarantees to maintain
the vital skills of existing EU workers in the UK, as part of a commitment to
ensuring small firms will in the future be able to easily recruit the right
person, for the right job, at the right time. Regulatory reform is a major priority for UK small
business owners but we must get it right and not miss opportunities provided by Brexit by maintaining the regulatory framework in the medium
term. After that, FSB will push Government and Parliament for the radical reform
of the regulatory burden for small businesses."
Sefton Central MP and Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson said:- "Thank
you to all the business people who attended the Brexit breakfast meeting and
thanks to Phil McCabe and Michael Sandys from the Federation of Small Business
for organising. We had a very lively debate about Brexit and about the
challenges which smaller businesses face as we leave the European Union. No one
was under any illusions about the scale of those challenges or the impact that
uncertainty has on business and on the economy. However, we also spoke about the
changes in the Liverpool City Region, not least with the election of the new
mayor in a few months time. There are significant opportunities for business and
for good, well paid jobs as a result of us taking greater control of decisions
in the City Region. I want to see Labour in government in the Liverpool City
Region working closely with businesses to make the most of the investment in
wind and tidal energy that is part of the deal which sets up the office of
mayor. The mayor will also have the chance to transform the prospects of younger
people by working with employers to dramatically improve the skills of
especially younger people, through more quality apprenticeships. There are
opportunities through the building of housing, especially affordable housing for
rent and to buy for local businesses.
It was clear from listening to the businesses who attended the event that we
have to make the most of what is available now and after we leave the EU. It was
also clear that there are many businesses across the city region who are up for
the challenge and I look forward to working with them."
The Forum was the first of regular round table meetings FSB is to hold with MPs
across the Merseyside, West Cheshire and Wigan region to give small businesses a
real dialogue with their elected political representatives. 'What small firms want from Brexit' – FSB research.
Discussions were shaped by the preliminary findings of FSB research:- 'What
small firms want from Brexit: A preview of FSB's Brexit research series,'
which has included 4 surveys, sent to every FSB member in the UK, focus groups
and 1-to-1 interviews with members. The priorities identified are:-
1. Access to EU single market and non-EU markets.
2. Access to skills, labour and ease of 'doing business within the EU'
3. EU funding and what happens next, particularly for business support.
4. Regulatory framework post exiting the EU in the short, medium and longer
In the next few months FSB will separately publish all 4 individual reports.
These in depth reports will include policy recommendations to ensure the small
business voice is heard during the EU exit negotiations.
► 29% of current small business exporters, regardless of
destination, expect their level of exporting, overall, to decline as a result of Brexit. However, 1 in 5 small firms expect their level of exporting to increase
and 42% of small exporters expect no change.
► 53% of small firms state that non tariff barriers play a role, to some degree,
on where they decide to export and 34% state that non tariff barriers play no
role in where they decide to export. With the UK set to leave the EU single
market, any new Free Trade Agreement must maintain the current ease of trade
with the EU and not lead to additional administrative or financial burdens. For
a truly global Britain, we also need the Government to enhance support for small
exporters to reach new customers in new markets.
► 21% of our members who currently employ staff employ EU citizens. 47% of these
predominantly employ mid skilled workers to address certain acute existing
skills shortages. FSB members need simple, straightforward access to people and
skills to grow in the future, so any new system must ensure demand can be met,
while ensuring a supply-side focus on improving UK education and skills.
► 30% of small business owners have benefited from free movement rights in the
last 12 months to undertake short term contracts in the EEA. Any restrictions
could hamper their ability to accept these contracts.
► EU funding currently supports a range of activities which support growth and
regional economic development. Our research shows that 22% of small businesses
are targeting growth of between 10% to 19%. Although these firms may not meet the
OECD's definition of high growth firms that are scaling up; they still have a
distinct set of support needs to enhance their productivity and their ability to
grow. Brexit provides an opportunity for a total review of business support and
access to finance schemes.
► 53% of FSB members believe 'reducing the regulatory burden' should be
the top policy priority for Parliament. This statistic applies to all regulation
and is not distinct to EU derived regulation but the UK's exit from the EU
provides an opportunity to re-examine the UK's regulatory regime to reduce the
cost of regulation and optimise conditions for productivity and competitiveness.