Ministers need to get their hands dirty

Prisk has spent some time working in a businesses across the country to understand the issues facing SMEs.

He also wants to encourage other ministers and officials from across Whitehall to spend between one and five days a year with SMEs or people trying to start up a business.

This is a brilliant piece of common-sense politics that wouldn’t have crossed the minds of the previous Labour government.

I can say that with authority because I invited a number of senior politicians from Gordon Brown’s gang to go “back to the floor” and see what it was like to work in an SME business during the recession.

The then-Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, former Skills Minister Kevin Brennan and the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, when he was Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, all turned me down flat.

I wasn’t surprised – but I was extremely frustrated that they wouldn’t listen to the views of an enterprising business owner and his motivated and hard-working team.

In fact, it was only, David Willetts (then a member of the Shadow Cabinet) who rolled up his sleeves to work alongside a team of male and female engineers at Pimlico Plumbers to see first hand what SME businesses and their employees have to deal with every day.

I hope that Prisk is successful in his challenge to his Westminster colleagues and that the shop-floor experience they gain and views of real-world business people have a positive impact on policies that affect SME businesses.

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