The government is to introduce a new enterprise bill which it says will cut £10bn of red tape, modernise the business rates appeal system, and help small businesses to resolve disputes faster.
The bill was announced today (27th May) in the Queen’s Speech.
Delivering the speech to Parliament, the Queen said: “Legislation will be brought forward to help achieve full employment and provide more people with the security of a job. New duties will require my ministers to report annually on job creation and apprenticeships. Measures will also be introduced to reduce regulation on small businesses so they can create jobs.”
The government said the purpose of the bill was to “cement the UK’s position as the best place in Europe to start and grow a business” and to "reward entrepreneurship, generate jobs and higher wages for all, and offer people opportunity at every stage of their lives”.
Among the bill’s aims will be the creation of a Small Business Conciliation Service, to help resolve business-to-business disputes, especially over late payment.
The bill will also seek to introduce business rates appeals reform, including modifying the powers of the Valuation Tribunal Service - an independent appeals tribunal funded by Parliament to handle council tax and rating appeals in England - to consider ratepayer appeals.
It will seek to allow the Valuation Office Agency, which gives the government the valuations and property advice needed to support taxation and benefits, to share information with local government to improve the system for councils and ratepayers.
Other measures in the bill include putting a cap on exit payments to public sector workers.
Tim Godfray, chief executive of The Booksellers Association, said: "The BA wants the new Conservative government to embrace the task of reforming business rates and to deliver a new system that is fit for the 21st century. We welcomed George Osborne’s decision to announce a structural review of the business rates system when he presented his Autumn Statement last year and so we were especially pleased to see in the Queen’s Speech that with the new Enterprise Bill the government intends to modify the appeals system and to improve the business rates system ahead of the 2017 revaluation.
"This is a good start but now we would like the government to do much more including rolling forward existing relief packages targeting small businesses and high street retailers without the resulting costs being passed on to other ratepayers through an increase in UBR; remove (or reduce below RPI) the annual uplift and announce plans for implementation of the Administration Review recommendations following the April and December 2014 consultations."