Business news

FSB calls for national insurance redress in new business manifesto

FSB NI policy chair Tina McKenzie has presented the body's 'back to business' manifesto ahead of the general election. Picture by Kelvin Boyes
Ryan McAleer

THE north's largest business body has called for the next UK Government to reduce the impact of national insurance on employers.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Northern Ireland has today launched a manifesto ahead of the December 12 general election.

Top of the list for the business organisation is the amount smaller firms pay in national insurance.

The FSB said the contribution effectively acts as a jobs tax. It has called for employment allowance to be expanded.

Employment allowance currently reduces the amount of national insurance employers have to pay by up to £3,000 per year.

The FSB said uprating it would support employment and ensure that no small business employing up to four people on the national living wage would pay employer's insurance.

The group's manifesto has also called for measures aimed at ending what it calls the “late payment crisis”. The body says up to £2.5 billion a year is not being paid to firms on time, potentially threatening around 50,000 companies.

The FSB has called for the swift appointment of a new small business commissioner with powers to reform the prompt payment code. The lobby group also wants new audit committees to scrutinise supply chains and large corporations.

The body is also pushing for late paying companies to be excluded from all public procurement processes.

Commenting on the new paper, FSB NI's policy chair, Tina McKenzie said: “For the last three years, the Brexit saga has captured the attention of policymakers, with not enough focus given to the issues which affect the day to day running of businesses.

“We are urging all candidates standing at this election to get ‘back to business' and listen to small firms who provide a service and create jobs in every constituency both here in Northern Ireland and right across the UK.”

She said: “Prospective candidates should keep in mind that a typical constituency hosts many thousands of small businesses and self-employed sole traders – and we're encouraging them to get out and make their voices heard on December 12.”

The FSB is also calling on policy makers to place a renewed focus on self-employed people, through a ‘legislative lock', which would ensure any measures brought forward for the benefit of workers is matched with help for the self-employed.

The lobby group has also called for maternity allowance for self-employed mothers to be aligned with statutory maternity pay, and fir paternity and adoption allowances to be introduced for sole traders.

The federation's manifesto has also called for urgent action infrastructure with the York Street Interchange, A5 dual carriageway and 4G mobile coverage topping the agenda.

Tina McKenzie said the Federation understands that many of its demands require a functioning Stormont to implement.

But she added: “While we continue to urge the UK Government to do all it can to facilitate the restoration of devolved government and encourage all parties to stretch themselves to make that happen, there are issues affecting the business environment which can't be allowed to go unaddressed any longer.”

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