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UK small businesses: From “doomed to extinction” to “backbone of the economy”

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The Start Up Loans company has lent 131m to 25,000 businesses and created 33,000 jobs and the apprenticeship Grant for Employers has provided 1,500 to firms taking on their first apprentice.

There’s also employment allowance, which gives businesses and charities a 2,000 tax cut off their National Insurance Contributions and a 1.1bn package of business rates measures. This also includes the 2011 government reduction of the annual net cost to business of domestic regulation by 2.2bn.

Those are but a few of the ways in which the government has helped support UK businesses.

It’s no wonder that Britain is heralded as one of the best places in the world to run a business, being ranked among the top ten places in the world to do business with by the World Economic Forum and World Bank.

But what will his suggestions off the back of the report further help small businesses

One of the reforms being pushed by the government this month comes in the form of slashing red tape for SMEs seeking public contracts. So far, this has been welcomed by the business world.

Providing SMEs with the opportunity to win more work in the public sector is an important step in the right direction,” said Tracy Ewen, managing director of IGF Invoice Finance. However, the government must remember the intense cashflow pressures that small firms are facing and therefore need to ensure that payment terms and engagement are clear and transparent. This will enable SMEs to manage their cashflow effectively and to plan for future growth.

According to Simon McVicker, director of policy and external affairs at IPSE, along with the recent clampdown on supply chain bullying by big businesses, the abolishing of pre-qualification questionaries (PQQ) is another positive step towards removing red tape .

Research conducted by IPSE in collaboration with ComRes showed that just 13 per cent of small businesses had applied for government contracts in the past and would consider doing so in the future,” he said. It is hoped the removal of PQQs will create a level playing field and increase the number of small businesses bidding for public sector contracts.

However, while government is making strides towards fairer regulation in some areas, it is moving backwards in others. The new reporting regulations for onshore intermediaries is one such area where government intervention has created an increased reporting burden on independent professionals that could hamper their ability to do business.”

But according to Michael Mercieca, CEO of Young Enterprise, it is Lord Young’s emphasis on the importance of enterprise education in the curriculum that is most important.

Lord Young notes that schools and colleges are responsible for equipping young people with the skills they need to succeed in life.

As evidenced in our Fiver Challenge, supported by Virgin Money, early intervention is key,” explained Mercieca. Enterprise education is not just about creating entrepreneurs, but by engaging and motivating young people to succeed in work and in life.

Closing the gap between employers requirements and young people skills and aspirations is hugely important, and we at Young Enterprise work tirelessly to link schools with businesses and enable young people to plan their future.

One can’t help but agree after taking a look at the Bolton report once more and its focus on management. In its final paragraphs, it stated that entrepreneurial or technological skill often does not go easily with organising ability. People who have built up a small business quite often find that when it comes to delegating authority down the line they do not find it easy. Many small firms are perhaps run by only one, two or three people and there is a wide gap belowthem. High-grade, well-educated young men and women are not often tempted to go into such firms.

But one thing is clear: small businesses are on the rise and with their penchant of overcoming the odds and the support of recent government initiatives, the golden era that Lord Young mentions has evidently begun.

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