Today (1 November), Small Business Minister Mark Prisk hosted a Summit for Small Business and has subsequently set out a cross government package of measures designed to assist the five million small and medium companies across the UK to grow and boost enterprise.
The Government recognises that such small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be essential in the bid to secure sustainable economic growth due to their position in the heart of the economy, providing 60% of jobs and half of GDP. In order to help such businesses develop and grow, ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Cabinet Office, Treasury and Department for Communities and Local Government have announced three major policies to:
improve access to finance;
make it easier to do business with the public sector; and
allow social tenants to start up their business at home.
In order to improve access to finance, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne have specifically announced several major policies which include plans to:
continue the Enterprise Finance Guarantee for the next four years, making around £2 billion available to viable small companies without a credit history or collateral;
commit a further £200 million to Enterprise Capital Funds supporting equity investments in the highest growth potential businesses over four years;
welcome the joint bid of business angels and the Government's SME investment arm, Capital for Enterprise, for a co-investment fund as part of the Regional Growth Fund to support angel investments into high growth potential early stage SMEs, particularly in areas worst affected by public spending cuts; and
work with banks on several areas launched in the Government's response to the green paper, Financing a Private Sector Recovery, including the £1.5 billion Business Growth Fund, mentoring and a new lending code.
So that it is easier for SMEs to do business with the public sector, the Government is giving them access to Government contracts, instead of leaving it as the preserve of big business. To ensure this happens:
a goal has been set to have a quarter of Government procurement directed to SMEs;
Government agencies will aim to remove qualifying barriers that prevent small businesses accessing Government contracts; and
the commitment that 80% of prime contractors are paid within five working days has been re-affirmed so that all Government contractors will be required to pay their suppliers within 30 days if they wish to benefit from departments' procurement.
Allowing social tenants to start up their own business from home:
the Government will work with social landlords to tackle the misconception that social tenants cannot start up a business, and encourage tenants to pursue their enterprising ideas; and
the Enterprise Finance Guarantee will be made more accessible to small community finance institutions, to benefit businesses starting up in disadvantaged communities.
Some of the measures that the Government has announced will apply to England only; however, the Government will be looking to work closely with the Devolved Administrations to ensure that SMEs are supported across the UK.
In addition to the above, Lord Young has today taken up the role of Enterprise Advisor to the Prime Minister, to propose new ways of encouraging business start-ups, reducing burdens, maximising procurement opportunities and engaging with small businesses.
Further, interested parties should note that the Government's achievements for small business were also published today in the document Backing Small Business. This is available to view on http://www.bis.gov.uk/publications.