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Matthew Riley: “SMEs need more help, not more paperwork”

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"The one time we even tried to apply for funding, we were handed a 1,000-page application form," he says. "Honestly, it would have taken three people a month to fill out that damned thing. Entrepreneurs need more help, not more paperwork."

Matthew Riley founded Lancashire-based Daisy Communications from his garage and floated it on AIM in July, with a little help from his Bhs billionaire friend, Sir Philip Green.

He believes it’s important to encourage the next generation of creative, innovative startups, rather than "moaning on and on about how manufacturing is in decline".

"My hometown of Burnley, where Daisy Communications is based, was once one of the largest producers of cotton cloth. Today, it’s a very run-down area with high levels of unemployment," he says. "Half the problem is that people don’t have the initiative to stop dwelling on the past and start looking forwards. We need to become an entrepreneurial country once more, not based on what we have been as a nation but on what we could be."

The 35-year-old entrepreneur says he’s heard "a lot of hype" about what the government is doing to help startups but he hasn’t seen it in action: "Labour has made noises about its apprenticeship programme but again, it all seems to stem around manufacturing. The message is: "Be an apprentice! Go and work at Rolls-Royce! Go and build cars!" Why not encourage apprenticeships in communications companies, too?

"I can’t believe no-one from a government department has ever picked up the phone and called me about this. I’m the biggest employer in this town. I’m sure I could do more to help but I could really do with someone pointing me in the right direction."

Related articles: Labour’s apprenticeship website is a "gimmick"

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