April 16 2015.

Before the election was called, the wide-ranging Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act gained royal assent. The Act aims to help businesses in a number of ways including improving access to finance through increasing the availability and sources of investment for small businesses.

The Act includes opening up access to small business credit data, leveling the playing field between providers and making it easier for a small business to seek a loan from a lender other than their bank; requiring banks to pass on details of small and mid-sized businesses they decline for a loan, with permission, to online platforms which can help match them with alternative finance providers; and introducing cheque imaging to speed up cheque clearing times.

Other measures provide for increased transparency on payment practices and policies through a new reporting requirement on the UK’s largest companies; ensuring that regulations affecting business are reviewed frequently and remain effective; appointing an independent ‘Small Business Appeals Champion’ for non-economic regulators to ensure that the needs of business – particularly small firms – are taken into account; increasing the support available from UK Export Finance and widening its powers to help UK exporters; and streamlining public procurement to remove barriers for small businesses.

There are also employment law measures in the legislation that ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts; create a per-worker penalty for breaches of national minimum wage legislation; and which change the management of employment tribunals.

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