This morning I caught the tail end of an interview with Doug Richard (the serial entrepreneur of Dragon’s Den fame). He was talking about how government support for small business was woefully inadequate, if not downright damaging. I found myself nodding in agreement and thinking what a smart chap John Hutton (Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform – the old DTI) was for commissioning Doug to produce this report.
Imagine my surprise and dismay when I discovered that the report was actually commissioned by David Cameron and that Doug Richard had just chaired the Tories Small Business Task Force. The result is Small Business and Government: The Richard Report (PDF), of which I agree with almost everything.
That said since David Cameron has stolen so many of Labour’s ideas then I think John Hutton would be well within his rights and indeed very sensible to just get on with implementing the ideas in Doug Richard’s report.
Mending the business support system
Our Small Business Task Force, chaired by the Dragons’ Den judge, Doug Richard, has set out innovative proposals to overhaul the business support system.
Doug, a serial entrepreneur, described the current system, which involves over 3,000 different schemes run by 2,000 public bodies and their contractors, as “confusing and out of control”.
Around two-thirds of the £2.5 billion spent on the system goes on telling companies where to find advice.
Doug laid out a number of recommendations to improve the support given to businesses, including:
- Creating a single, national, web-based Business Information System
- Improving access to finance for SME’s
- Helping small businesses secure more Government contracts
- Overhauling enterprise education in schools.
Doug said, “These recommendations would enable the UK to once again become one of the best places in the world to do business.”