21 May 2024

£5 million to unlock Scotland's entrepreneurial talent. 

The Scottish government has announced a £5 million package aimed at supporting Scotland's start-up companies and fostering entrepreneurial talent. The package includes funding for expanding business funding competitions, developing pre-start support for under-represented groups, maximising the economic impact of university spin-out companies, and investing in initiatives to attract top talent to Scotland. The government's support coincides with a partnership between Codebase and Scottish EDGE to enhance support for businesses and entrepreneurs. This initiative aligns with the Scottish government's commitment to establishing Scotland as one of Europe's leading start-up economies and fostering a dynamic business community.

Read the full statement here


NI Finance Minister launches Back in Business rate support scheme

Finance Minister in Northern Ireland Dr Caoimhe Archibald relaunched a rate support scheme aimed at attracting businesses into town centres and onto the high street.

The Back in Business scheme offers businesses a 50% rates discount for up to two years if they move into vacant premises that have been unoccupied for 12 months or more and that were previously used for retail purposes.

The Back in Business scheme is open to all business types and applications can be made online. Further information on how to apply can be found at https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/back-in-business  


Smarter Regulation Programme

The UK government has launched the Smarter Regulation Programme to reduce regulatory burdens, lower the cost of living, and drive economic growth. The programme aims to cut unnecessary bureaucracy and form filling, with estimated benefits to society of £6.3 billion. Specific reforms include changes to EU regulations, consultations on deregulating certain laws, and proposals to modernise outdated rules, such as those governing gaming machines and alcohol sales. The government also plans to raise the corporate reporting threshold for medium-sized companies, potentially saving these companies around £150 million per year. Additionally, a White Paper has been published to instil a culture of 'world-class service' in regulatory operations, aiming to deliver the best outcomes for businesses, consumers, and society.

Read the full statement here.


Economic vision for Wales

The Welsh government's Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, outlined immediate economic priorities for Wales, including establishing a national economic council, conducting short turn around reviews in key areas, organising regional events for businesses to share their views, and developing a national approach to future skills planning. He emphasised the importance of a sustainable economy in supporting prosperity, well-being, and addressing various societal challenges. Additionally, he expressed a vision for Wales to be a welcoming and supportive environment for young entrepreneurs.

Read the full statement here.


Campaigning for you – Ministerial meeting

NHBF met with Kevin Hollinrake MP this week, the Minister of State for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business with responsibility for the Personal Care sector and senior civil servants, along with other members of the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC).

NHBF outlined the headline results from our latest quarterly State of the Industry survey. In a discussion about the impact of the rises to wages in April, Rosina outlined that these were biting and having an impact on the ground with businesses putting up prices, taking lower profits/absorbing the cost, reducing investment and reducing staff hours in response. NHBF is in the process of providing detailed evidence to the Low Pay Commission and several NHBF members have already met with Commissioners during their regional visits to explain the impact on the sector. NHBF urged that it’s important that the government and Low Pay Commission look at the evidence and show caution re decisions around future wage rises.


Low pay commission UK visits 2024

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is an independent statutory Non-Departmental Public Body set up under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 to advise the Government on the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

They are on the lookout for companies that might be interested in speaking to the commissioners about the impact of minimum wages on their business.  From 1 April 2024, the minimum has increased to £11.44 for those over 21-year-olds which is nearly a 10% increase from last year.  There are also adjustments for other age groups as shown in the link here.

How will the latest announcement affect your business planning?  How would you respond to the rising NMW?  LPC is also interested in talking to companies that are trying to raise their productivity, to showcase their learning journeys in their communication platforms.  The oral evidence given by the companies will be collated along with the research statistics for LPC to make their yearly recommendations to the government about the minimum wage.

If you would like to speak to the LPC Commissioners and bring up issues pertinent to your sector, please refer to the table of visits below and contact Rosina Robson from the NHBF.

Visits Schedule


12 to 13 June 2024 (Scotland)

North Ayrshire


3 to 4 July 2024 (Northern Ireland)


31 July 2024 (Midlands)