FSB recommends placing small firms at the heart of local decision-making, ahead of May elections

By Nick Batten on 21 April, 2022

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on the main political parties and candidates standing in the local elections in England next month, to sign up to its Local Leadership Partnership pledge.

The pledge asks candidates to commit to creating a small business champion post within the council, as well as a council officer role dedicated to ensuring small firms are well represented in decision-making within local authorities.

It also calls on candidates to work with FSB to develop a supportive policy for small businesses in their authority area, as set out in the business group’s new Local Leadership document.

The document, published this month, outlines the ways local and combined authorities across England can work with and empower small businesses and the self-employed to deliver growth, prosperity and jobs.

Latest FSB statistics show confidence amongst the small business community has hit a one-year low after consecutive quarterly falls – with more than three-quarters of small businesses (78%) saying their outgoings have increased.

During the pandemic, local and combined authorities have worked closely with FSB and small firms. Continued partnership will continue to help small businesses through an already tumultuous recovery.

The new report covers everything from how councils should best engage with their small business community, to skills and digital connectivity, and planning and business rates.

Amongst the recommendations in the document, FSB is calling for local authorities to:

  • Have both a dedicated elected member Small Business Champion and a ‘single point of contact’ staff member representing small firms.
  • Set out a net zero engagement plan for small firms, targeting specific sectors, highlighting what net zero means for them, and how they can help reach net zero.
  • Encourage and support small firms to invest in leadership and management training, as well as offering digital skills training alongside vouchers for software or hardware, where possible.

FSB is also encouraging the 4.9million small businesses and self-employed across England, and their staff, to come out and vote in their local elections on 5th May to make sure their voice is heard.

Richard Askew, Chair of FSB’s England Regional Policy Unit, said, “There are so many challenges currently facing small firms and the self-employed. As well as the sky-high energy costs, increasing prices and staff absences, businesses are trying to tackle things like skills gaps amongst their teams and debt acquired during the pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic our small firms stepped up and supported their communities with many local businesses relying on the services they supplied. We’d like to see local and combined authorities working with their local FSB and small businesses in their area to ensure tangible and long-lasting impacts for both the small business community, as well as the economy as a whole.

“Ahead of next month’s local elections, we’re asking candidates to get on board with our pledge to put small businesses and self-employed at the heart of decisions made at a local authority level. These recommendations act as a checklist that councils across England can use to ensure small firms are given the right support and encouragement to be able to compete, grow and form part of their local community.”

For the full Local Leadership report, click here.