The government's next legislative programme was outlined in a Queen's Speech described by David Cameron and Nick Clegg as "unashamedly pro-work and pro-business". Among the measures were a new Small Business, Enterprise, Enterprise and Employment Bill. Business groups and entrepreneurs respond to the speech below.
John Allan, national chairman, Federation of Small Businesses:
The Small Business Bill reflects the growing recognition of the role small businesses have to play in driving forward the economy and the need to do all we can to support them in that effort.
"This landmark Bill will therefore be welcomed by our members. It includes measures that we have pushed for in our discussions with Government and indeed all political parties over the last twelve months to help them support their growth ambitions – such as action on late payment terms for smaller suppliers and to beef up scrutiny of unnecessary regulation."
John Longworth, director general, British Chambers of Commerce:
"Simplifying life for small or growing businesses should be an objective shared across all political parties. There are many measures in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill that will receive support if they work in practice – including faster company registration, improvements to public sector payment, and measures to support business cash flow.
"The vast majority of law-abiding businesses will also favour a clampdown on rogue employers who do not pay the National Minimum Wage, and on company directors who act unscrupulously. The key here will be to ensure that enforcement focuses on those businesses and individuals that knowingly and wilfully flout the law. Any measures that tie up honest businesses in new bureaucracy would ultimately be self-defeating."
Joe White, CFO and co-founder, Moonfruit:
"Paying small businesses on time is critical, not only to their success but the UK economy as a whole. Large corporates regularly deal out shocking treatment to small businesses when it comes to late payments. This is an area the government could do a lot more on.
"We welcome legislation to make it easier for small businesses to access finance and to improve payment practices between small businesses and their customers. Bad cash flow can be detrimental to a business’ growth strategy, so it’s crucial the Government and companies help each other to enable growth rather than hinder it.
"Spotting this opportunity, the technology sector now offers cash flow solutions to small businesses and this is an area I expect to see grow and innovate over time if nothing is done."
James Benamor, CEO, Amigo Loans:
“Whilst [improving access to finance] is the right move by the government, it just goes to show what a mess the UK’s lending system is currently in and that big banks are still unwilling to help Britain’s entrepreneurs.
"It also adds further confirmation that the banks have forgotten why they are here. They have continued to rely on restrictive risk models and computer credit scoring, to such an extent that viable first time SME borrowers are being rejected at a rate of 50%. This is criminal when you think that the hard earned money of the people they are rejecting is what was used to bail most of them out.
"At least we are seeing some positive steps from the government who finally look like they are ready to take real action to help small businesses. The quicker this legislation comes through the better as many 'rejected' SMEs just don’t know where to turn at the moment, especially as the latest funding for lending figures show yet another drop in business lending from the banks."
Simon McVicker, director of policy and public affairs, PCG:
"All businesses, including freelancers with bills to pay, rely on cash flow and are too often hampered by late payers. Talk of changing the 'culture of payment' among larger firms will only go so far in addressing the problem.
"In order for it to be effective, the Prompt Payment Code must be compulsory for large companies and it must include sanctions for the worst offenders. A 'comply or explain' system for payment terms is a start, but in order to stamp out the issue once and for all, more decisive action needs to be taken."