With a name like that it really must be a panacea for all kinds of ills and it certainly aims to address a number of hot topics including zero hours contracts, late payment of suppliers, and transparency in relation to the beneficial ownership of UK companies. On zero-hours contracts, the SBEEB will ban exclusivity clauses which prevent employees from working for another employer, even when no work is guaranteed. On late payment of suppliers, there'll be a 'naming and shaming' approach so that businesses have to publish details of their payment terms. On 'disguised ownership' there'll be a legal requirement that companies name their beneficial owners on a public register.
In the grand scheme of things none of these measures is likely to make a huge difference to the state of the UK economy; even the government's business minister has said that there's no 'silver bullet' to help business grow; simply a steady stream of improvements to the small business environment. In my view that approach is to be applauded as it would be unrealistic to expect any one initiative to improve things in one go and I've long believed that a general reduction in 'red tape' and administrative requirements is a better way of oiling the wheels of commerce than anything else that the government can do. If the administrative burden can be reduced at the same time as the economy picks up anyway, I'd like to think that the future might be quite rosy. In addition to the three headline topics, the SBEEB also covers a whole host of other incremental improvements.
Anecdotally things are picking up quickly (just before they become a bit quieter as the school holidays loom). If I look at the mix of work on my desk at the moment I still have a good number of private equity deals (which was the case throughout the downturn/recession (whatever you want to call it)) but I now also have two company sales, one company purchase and one business purchase, as well as a number of start-ups, compliance and advisory projects, and drafting of commercial contracts (website terms and conditions and data protection policies amongst them). This time last year, company sales and purchases were more rare than hens' teeth (but less rare than Luis Suarez's teeth). My colleagues in the Banking Team on the other side of the open-plan floor are flat out too with a mixture of 'traditional' debt funding transactions, but also a large number of invoice finance and asset finance deals.
By the time the World Cup finishes in mid-July we should have the second quarter GDP figures which are expected to show further economic growth. With a bit of luck, any additional impetus generated by SBEEB will be the icing in the cake. Have a good summer.