Headlines: February 20th, 2007



The Federation of Small Businesses has set out eight key areas it would like local authorities to address and it is calling on all candidates in the forthcoming council elections to keep small businesses at the forefront of their policies. The Federation, Britain’s biggest business organisation, has published its own ‘manifesto’ for the May polls outlining how decisions at a local level affect small companies and self-employed people.

The manifesto covers issues from rate relief to councils sourcing more goods and services locally and a plea for Local Strategic Partnerships to engage with business. The Federation says the document has been drawn up to try to ensure that all “council candidates can manage local government in a way that will defend small employers and their employees in their area”. Twelve million people are estimated to work for small firms.

Roger Culcheth, the Federation’s Local Government Chairman, said decisions taken by local authorities had a direct impact on the livelihoods of small business owners and their employees. “In some areas local authorities and businesses have a close and effective relationship but in others small employers are treated as silent taxpayers with little voice in the future of their community. This is precisely why the FSB does not support any move to re-localise the setting of business rates,” he added.

The manifesto covers finance, including a call for greater promotion of small business rate relief and hardship relief as well as the use of Local Authority Business Growth Initiative awards. It also wants to see commitment to the Small Business Friendly Concordat with less aggregation of public procurement contracts and more accountability on e-procurement. On transport the Federation wants to see affordable town centre parking and sufficient funding for the road network while on crime and community safety it urges Local Strategic Partnerships to make tackling crime a priority and says Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships must address business crime. On regulation it wants an end to over-zealous enforcement and it wants genuine budget consultations in the business community as well as improved opportunities for involvement and for LSPs to engage with business. Finally on planning and the environment, the manifesto calls for development plans to reflect the needs of small businesses and it supports measures to prevent illegal waste dumping.

The Federation says its branches across the country will be engaging with prospective councillors to get across the message that thriving small businesses are vital to the success of local communities.