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Enterprise Allowance: vital for fragile firms

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Spending £50m on the new Enterprise Allowance scheme might sound like a blast from our Thatcherite past – Maggie introduced an Enterprise Allowance Scheme in 1983.

However, when you give motivated people a bit of a leg-up, whether it’s the eighties or 2011, it can only be a positive step.

Ask anyone who has set up their own business and I bet you, a pound to a penny, that they’ve got a story about how things almost didn’t happen for them back in the “early days”.

These stories will invariably include hand-to-mouth existences, 100-hour weeks, finances (and multiple credit cards) maxed out and a whole lot of baked beans for supper!

These new grants – up to £2,000 – to help businesses in their fragile lift-off stage, is a great idea.

A couple of grand isn’t going to make them work any less hard or quash their entrepreneurial spirit by making them rely on handouts, but it just might be the difference between getting something good off the ground and it disappearing into the ether.

And believe me, with our current unemployment and deficit situation, we really do need to heed the calls for a private sector-led recovery. I know I would have been grateful for a few extra quid for groceries in the seventies when I was getting started!

What’s really interesting and encouraging about this new scheme launched by David Cameron at the end of last week is that it proves we are now truly drinking out of the same teapot when it comes to employment.

The similarities between this scheme, where people keep their benefits to get their business off the ground, and my proposal, to turn Job Seekers’ Allowance into a training wage, are clear.  

So, come on guys, let’s also expand this idea into training good honest apprentices as well, because not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.

It’s also worth considering that the 40,000 new start-ups that Cameron hopes to create by 2013 will need skilled employees down the line to help them prosper.

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