The Voice of a Million Small Businesses

Ewan Gaffney | October 16, 2016
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GEW joins Small Business Taskforce calling on UK government to safeguard small business interests in EU negotiations 

Since the announcement of the result of the Brexit referendum, UK small business owners and entrepreneurs have found themselves in a state of limbo.

Implications of Brexit are huge, far-reaching and as yet unknown. As society seeks to come to terms with the macro implications of this huge paradigm shift, it has been small business that has faced immediate consequences. A sustained weakening of the pound, and wider turbulence in the markets have had a clear real world impact on British SMEs, which we must remember make up over 99% of all businesses in the UK.

As an institution dedicated to fostering and supporting British entrepreneurship, we feel it is imperative that government puts the needs of small businesses and self-employed individuals at the forefront of the provisional discussions which will define Brexit. After all, freedom of movement, market access and trade agreements are all issues fundamentally grounded in business policy.

This is a period of huge significance for the future British business. The UK needs intelligent, credible strategies and policy suggestions put forward by the best and the brightest. It is right that the voice of small business is strongly represented in any discussion as we move towards the formal signing of Article 50 in 2017.

Global Entrepreneurship Week UK is proud to join the newly formed Small Business Taskforce. Made up of organisations which collectively represent over a million small businesses and self-employed individuals, this taskforce will seek to represent these voices. We aim to work closely with government on fresh plans of what business support and procurement could look like in a post-Brexit world.  

Today we publish an open letter, in which the taskforce jointly makes five recommendations to ensure that the small business community in Britain can continue to prosper and deliver economic and social returns to our country.  Join the discussion on social media with #UnitedforSmallBusiness.


Small Business Taskforce's letter to government

Over the past five years, the UK has become one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor puts the UK at number one in Europe and number four globally. This has been enabled by the low costs of start-up entry, accessible technology, a flexible economy and a positive attitude towards self-starters and entrepreneurship; from the media, large corporates, and government.  

As organisations representing small businesses of all shapes and sizes, reflecting the new world of work, from every region, we are committed to ensuring the UK retains its leading global entrepreneurship position.  

Together, we represent over a million small businesses and self-employed individuals and recognise that there are key factors that have enabled them to flourish. We want to know that those negotiating Britain’s future can ensure these conditions remain in place, as Brexit deals are negotiated and a new government makes its mark. To achieve that, we feel work and commitment is required around:

Flexible workforce   

We call on the government to provide clear and unequivocal reaffirmation of the long-term residence rights of EU citizens currently working in the UK.  We also call for the Government to commit to keeping our labour market flexible which gives the UK a real comparative advantage over our European competitors.

Workable tax regime  

While the Government has already committed to a lowering of Corporation Tax, we call for a commitment to no increases to National Insurance, and agreement from departments that consultation will continue be carried out with those representing small firms ahead of introducing any further tax changes, for example quarterly digital tax data and any potential exemptions and reforms to Corporation Tax.  

Accessible business support 

Many variations of support have been introduced over the years, from Business Link to Growth Vouchers and Growth Accelerator. A percentage of these programmes have been underpinned by EU funds. We would like to see a review of funding available for business support and plans for its expenditure.  

International trade for all  

One in five small firms currently exports.  Exporting increases productivity and leads to employment and growth.  But while Brexit has brought opportunity, it has brought complication and a squeeze on margins for some of the smallest firms. There has never been a more critical time to encourage British firms to take their business to the world and offer help to navigate new issues. We recommend government experiments with export support, for the smallest of firms, in the form of Export Vouchers and Export Tax Credits, and rapidly show progress on trade deals with countries eager to do business including the US, China, Australia and New Zealand.  

Consultation with small business  

To ensure that small business views are taken into account in trade deals and domestic policy, we hereby form a Small Business Taskforce to offer government a clear route to over a million small businesses and self-employed individuals.

The taskforce jointly makes these five recommendations and is prepared to help the Government work on fresh plans of what business support and procurement could look like in a post-Brexit world.  

We welcome the opportunity to work closely with government to ensure the small business base of Britain can continue to prosper, delivering economic and social returns to our country.  


cosigned by


on behalf of over one million small businesses, self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs 



Ewan Gaffney
Managing Director of GEN UK and GEW UK. I'm a social entrepreneur, digital strategist and facilitator. I'm also an award winning campaign... About the Author