By Claire West
Welcoming the Government’s infrastructure investment outlined today by Danny Alexander MP, John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“The £28 billion investment to improve national and local roads is good news. The FSB said before last year’s Autumn Statement that such a fund was desperately needed. There is an urgency to get these projects off the ground so that businesses see action and not just rhetoric on delivery. Two thirds of FSB members say the state of the roads has a negative impact on their business with 61 per cent saying the same about congestion. Making roads fit for purpose and able to cope with traffic levels will help all businesses.
“We hope that plans to reform the Highways Agency will put an end to the stop-start investment cycle that has marred road transport investment and delayed many worthwhile projects.”
“While the FSB is pleased that further funding has been given to get superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the population by 2017 we are disappointed that the timetable has slipped by another two to three years. Small firms want to be able to access the internet so universal connectivity is needed now.
“The FSB believes it is imperative that there is more competition and transparency in the BDUK framework. This would allow more providers to join the race to deliver 100 per cent connectivity across the UK to all 4.8 million small businesses to give them the best chance to prosper and grow.”
“Today’s £30 billion rail investment alongside last year’s commitment to invest in rail is long overdue. It will help small businesses better connect with their customers and suppliers. The FSB has long called for better road and rail links to be put in place. The Government must ensure that all modes of transport are taken into consideration when making decisions on infrastructure investment to ensure smooth transitions between road, rail and public transport as well as air travel and ports, where relevant.”
“It is good news that the Government has reached an agreement with the insurance industry to help protect homes against flooding. We now need to see similar action for small businesses. Investment in flood defences is needed to help protect the most vulnerable firms and homes.
Competition in the water sector
“Opening up competition in the water market is good news and should help drive down prices and boost customer service. However, Government must ensure it learns the lessons from the introduction of competition in the energy sector and give small businesses the right level of consumer protection to ensure they do not suffer from a lack of transparency and unfair contract terms.”
“The commitment of further investment in energy production will hopefully lead to more stability in energy bills for businesses. Capacity Markets and Renewable Strike Prices seem to be a way of using the market to meet the gap in generating energy, while on the surface the Levy Control Framework seems to be a good mechanism to restrict energy companies from passing on unreasonable costs to customers.
“To make sure costs are not passed onto businesses is ultimately reliant on reforming energy markets. It is clear that more needs to be done in that area, for example to encourage switching between suppliers and addressing the issue of roll over contracts.”