Kent, a traditionally conservative county, had one surprise in this General Election in the Canterbury vote which resulted in the first Labour MP for the constituency. FSB will be working with all re-elected Kent MPs, and the new Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield, to make sure they are aware of issues facing the thousands on self-employed and small and medium enterprises across the county.
Top of the list for Kent firms is business rates – an issue that confounds and confuses many members. Secondly, we shall be raising the issue of tax for the self-employed, and the fact that we do not wish the new Government to single out the self-employed for tax reasons. Thirdly, the skills shortage. We know that many firms struggle to find the right staff for their business. FSB recommends looking at new ways to recruit, perhaps via apprenticeships or through exploring the option of staff with supported needs. We shall continue to raise these issues with MPs in Kent and Medway as they take on their new roles.
Brexit is clearly an urgent focus for the new government. But Brexit will only be successful if the government fully backs small businesses, whose ambitions will need to be harnessed to make use of any new trade deals. UK negotiators must have their interests in mind, including easy access to the single market and the ability to hire workers with the skills they need. Brexit is not the only issue affecting businesses though and the Government can’t ignore the domestic agenda.
Across the new House of Commons there is a consensus that the Business Rates system is unfair, outdated and in urgent need of reform. There is also cross-party agreement on the need to tackle the poor treatment of many small firms by their big business customers. We look forward to working constructively with Ministers and all parties on these key issues.
If you would like to raise an issue with your MP in Kent, do get in touch, FSB would be happy to help.