Spring Budget: FSB + DEC Dryden St: Learning, connecting, linking, lobbying: generating capacity in Nottingham

Featured Image: DEC Dryden Street Round Table organised by Natalie Gasson Mckinley @FSBNottsDerbys and DEC @ntuEnterprise

On Friday 25th March 10 am -11.30 am members of the  Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and tenants of the new NTU Dryden St Enterprise Centre had the most interesting welcome to the blend of advocacy, support and lobby that’s in the history of buildings, business and people in Nottingham. 

It was a really well spent one and a half hours!

The meeting was in person and virtual, held in the new centre and had been organised by Federation of Small Business Development Officer Natalie Gasson McKinley with Megan Powell Vreeswijk and Katrina Starkiewho run and manage the centre, help from the business school: Lynne Oxborrow Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management Nottm Bus School, local politician Lilian Greenwood MP for Nottingham South, members of the FSB, tenants from DEC (Dawn Edwards who’s a people development specialist and FSB Connect Nottshost, Claire Mann of Change Xtra ,who’s working on making the journey through menopause smoother and normal(!) and has done some great research on local pharmacies and patient trust, Paul Wright of Quartz Barristers (direct barrister access) Helen Barrow, lipreading tutor and hearing loss consultant and course members, Ben Timberley of Black Book Consulting who produces The Heresy Business podcast. The meeting also welcomed course members virtually. 

The great thing about the meeting was the sense that it was a discussion on levelled ground where the issues of debt, repayment, recruitment, training, skills, export, post pandemic recovery, the chancellor’s speech, energy, household costs and the impact on individuals, micro businesses and SMEs were raised, discussed and prioritised. 

Lilian’s question: What’s your biggest challenge? 

For Paul Wright of Quartz Barristers, they’ve grown now to thirty barristers. He feels that the way they’ve grown, the way they’ll scale won’t be traditional. He feels that the space in the DEC, the relationships, links and networks acknowledge, recognise and nurture this pioneering spirit. He’s been a member of the FSB for three years.

Claire Mann of ChangeXtra cited the importance of good quality IT/data knowledge when you need it.  Ben Timberley (who focusses on the problems of micros/smes getting quality SEO help on his podcast) mentioned how it would be a good thing to develop an IT/tech curriculum based on the actual knowledge/experience/learning needs of business. 

Marwa mentioned how can Arabic women break through the barriers to work/employment/business? (DEC can help here: they’ve already run a programme with Syrian people). 

Helen Barrow lip-reading tutor/hearing loss consultant made a really interesting comment about the service she facilitates: how can her skills, knowledge, abilities be constituted so she can work, distribute her experience all the year round? Courses often end after 12 weeks yet individuals, companies, organisations need these skills all the year round: it’s a service that needs networking, developing scaling up. 

Jess talked about the challenges of exporting: all the rule changes as well as loans, payback, living wage: Jess sells to supermarkets, wholesale and retail. 

Christian who has a telemarketing business has found it a real challenge to recruit telemarketers: this is maybe to do with digital transition, the need to reinvent telemarketing for the 21st century as a local, add value service. 

Katrina from DEC felt that interacting, trying to get people’s attention is affected by the short term pressures and the political backdrop, she felt that we need to really look more closely locally at the circular economy, working in collaboration. 

The information, discussion and communication was natural, friendly and collegiate which makes you realise how virtually literate and confident we’re becoming: how the pandemic has energised us to understand and articulate our dreams, hopes and obstacles. 

Megan and Katrina talked about how the DEC can be the business friend and ally the resources, achievements of DEC and Natalie (FSB) explained the way her networking, linking, event development worked to assist potential, new and existing members to support each other peer to peer and how the FSB lobbies government. Natalie’srole involves updating members onHS2/BroadMarsh regeneration/placemaking/apprenticeships/training means for you. 

(Placemaking can be a fantastic opportunity to rethink/resell/rebrand your business).

Lilian Greenwood MP asked questions and listened: what are your issues? We know the cost of doing business has reached a 7 year high, late payments are the issue. While large businesses receive their payments instantly there’s still a bottleneck for small businesses. Experian are surveying 18,000 small businesses, how can they be assisted to help themselves?

From the virtual course member Marwa who’s been working with refugee women to help them build entrepreneurial opportunities. Zhor Aissaoui is an IT engineer (on maternity leave) who’s keen to develop a sustainable beauty business with women from her home country Morocco and is also helping Marwas.

When I looked at the history and structure of the FSB (in 2022 184 branches and 33 regions see more below).

The DEC offers standard and flexible courses/event to individuals/micro businesses and SME representatives: Headstart, Breakthrough, Ready to Scale, Explore Freelancing Student Enterprise courses it runs. 

Lilian explained that the Labour Party front bench team realise how critical the health of small firms is, that the business rate needs modernising and labour have a commitment to that. She agreed with a couple of the businesses who mentioned how they’d just stopped exporting to Europe and mentioned local independent bookshop Five Leaves who’d done just that because it was becoming too complex. 

Megan and  Lynne explained how NTU expertise (and the former Hive, now DEC) helped to grow individuals with European Social Fund support: skills, leaders, workers (DEC has put 300 women through its leadership programme in the last two years) and runs Big House to develop creative businesses which can then move on into the other programmes like Breakthrough). The DEC newsletter gives updates on sessions, breakfast meetings, mindfulness, cybersecurity. At the moment there are 30 student, micro and SME businesses

A very well spent one and a half hours. See below for info about the DEC, the FSB

Check architect/designers Evans Vettori video of the history of the new building. During the last thirty years NTU, business and the Nottingham community have helped 400+ very successful businesses to grow and hundreds more creative and freelance businesses. The Hive, which grew out of Trent Polytechnic’s post war mission to provide practical support and resources to local individuals and employers was a helping hand, a nurturing seed bed for new businesses to grow. The new DEC built in the pandemic by James Henry and Co came out of this the environment.

DEC Resources for hot-desking, tenants:

Secure super-fast Wi-Fi


Business rates

24/7 access



Front desk service



Federation of Small Businesses Nottm Derby Regional

Natalie Gasson Notts and Derby Development Manager


Notts and Derby Volunteers

Dawn Edwards 

Rachel Hayward

FSB Staff

Linsey Luke

Regional Development Manager

FSB Staff 

Amy Gillespie

Operational Support Coordinator: Notts. & Derby | Leicester, Northants. and Rutland


Leicestershire Northamptonshire and Rutland

FSB Staff 

Jennifer Thomas

Leics, Northants & Rutland Development Manager

FSB Volunteers 

Sally Wood

Leics, Northants & Rutland Volunteer Area Leader

Julie Jordan-Spence

Leics, Northants & Rutland Volunteer Area Leader

The Federation of Small Businesses is a local and regional support, lobby, services and advocacy structure that has a long, strong, history of supporting the growth and development of self employed, freelancers, micro and small businesses throughout the UK. 

In 2022 there are184 branches 33 regions website members are allies, networked through the website, through local, regional meetings and representation to government. FSB membership gives you access to

£149 plus £30 joining fee 

Number of employees Annual subscription One-off registration fee Total cost

0 employees £147 £30 £177

1-4 employees £199 £30 £229

5-10 employees £253 £30 £283

11-20 employees £304 £30 £334

21-30 employees £371 £30 £401

31-40 employees £402 £30 £432

41-50 employees £449 £30 £479

51-100 employees £577 £30 £607

101-150 employees £980 £30 £1010

151-249 employees £980 + £5 for each employee above 150 £30 £1010+

Members become part of their local community and have access to what’s going on in other parts of the country. Their membership provides: 

FSB Employment Protection

FSB Legal Protection Scheme

FSB Tax Investigation Protection

FSB Legal Hub

FSB PR/Crisis Management

FSB Health and Safety Advice

FSB Care

FSB Cyber Protection

FSB Campaigning

FSB First Voice

FSB Insurance Service

FSB Business Banking

FSB Debt Recovery

FSB 160, 000 members 2022 there are about 5 million people who are self employed, freelancers, micro businesses or running smes in 2022 1974-1991 national federation of the self employed/owner/partner/director

Representing a broad spectrum of businesses and industries. 

Recent revival of self-employment 4.19 million self employed

represents an effective answer to the problems or slow economic growth

Federation of Small Businesses £5000 NI allowance increase Employers’ Class 1 National Insurance contributions are 13.8 per cent on all earnings above the secondary threshold, which for the 2021/22 tax year is £170 per week, £737 per month or £8,840 per year. Rates and thresholds for the 2022/23 tax year can be found on the government website, including the Health and Social Care levy increase

Federation of Small Businesses

National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses


Estbd 1974

co reg no: 1263540

Not for profit company

Membership body for small businesses and the self-employed

Headquarters: Blackpool, England

Membership (2016) 160,000

National Chairman Martin McTague

National Vice Chair Internal Affairs, FSB Melanie Ulyatt

National Vice Chair Policy and Advocacy, FSB Tina McKenzie

Board of directors Alexis Lay, Alison NorthGary LovattPeter DavysSandra GarlickStephen Askew.

FSB Publications Limited, FSB Recruitment Limited, FSB Sales Limited, F.S.B. (Member Services) Limited, FSB Gold Club Limited, Keep Trade Local Ltd, Real Life Entrepreneurs Limited

Revenue (2016) £25.6M

Staff (2016) 211

Formerly called National Federation of Self Employed

FSB is a UK business organisation representing small and medium-sized businesses, formed in 1974 as the National Federation of Self Employed (NFSE).[1] The current name for the organisation was adopted in 1991. It is registered with Companies House as The National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses Limited (co no 1263540).[2]

FSB is member-led, not-for-profit and non-party political.

FSB lobbies national, local and devolved government, giving members a range of benefits, such as a 24-hour legal advice line and free business banking.[5]

Martin McTague appointed Chair 8 March 2022 

FSB has 184 branches around the UK, grouped into 33 regions. Each branch and region has its own committee. There is a national committee with representatives from each regional committee.

In Jan 2018, FSB’s Board of Directors altered the organisation’s volunteer structure, switching from elected Branches & Regions to unelected to promote a more ad-hoc approach to local lobbying & representation it meant changes to FSB’s National Council comprising 12 appointed representatives.

FSB’s lobbying activities have led to a number of benefits for small businesses such as:

overcoming attempts to impose unreasonable National Insurance Contributions

Enhanced capital allowances/flexible working hours

Reduction/removal of Corporation Tax for small limited companies

VAT reform: a flat rate scheme for small businesses

Ending automatic fines for incorrect filing of VAT returns

FSB is a member-led federation. 

Membership criteria are as follows:

The FSB supports Self-Employed or owner, partner, director of a business (or businesses) based in the United Kingdom under 250 employees.

To join you need to agree the Members’ Code of Conduct

The membership160,000 in 2016 probably about 200,000 if Joint, Associate, Retired, Connect and Business Creation (pre-start-up) affiliates are included.

The FSB SBI has been quoted by the Bank of England the BBC, Economia, and EADT.