Anthony Hilton: Trading up - Michael Heseltine’s brainchild matures
Heseltine set up the forum in the 1990s to help trade associations to raise their game
Saturday 23 March 2013
It is easy to make jokes about the Trade Association Forum being the trade association for trade associations, but the fact that a conference it organised on Wednesday could boast not one but two government ministers in the speaker line-up suggests it is no ordinary organisation.
Wednesday was of course Budget day, so Steve Webb, who spoke on pensions, and Jo Swinson, the Equalities minister, could easily have used this as an excuses to cry off at the last minute – as politicians have been known to do. The fact that both showed up and delivered full value in their respective slots – alongside the head of primary markets for the Stock Exchange, the head of the National Apprenticeship Service and several other leaders in their fields – speaks volumes for the regard with which these organisations are held in Whitehall.
The fact is that without trade associations, both business and government would find it much harder to function. There are hundreds of them, from the Horticultural Trades Association through the Alliance of Wedding Planners to the Association for Professional Alliance Testing, quietly organising memberships, raising standards, applying codes of conduct and lobbying government. They are the main channel of communication between Whitehall and the business community and without them it is hard to see how the system would function.
The forum itself was set up in the 1990s on the initiative of the then trade minister, Michael Heseltine, to help trade associations raise their game, become more professional and learn from each other. From the outset it has operated under the wing of the CBI. But its current chair, the National Federation of Builders' chief executive, Julia Evans, thinks the time may be coming for it to fly the nest and develop independently, so it's an organisation we could soon be hearing much more of.
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 'Do not give them a reason': Baltimore man divides police and rioters in hope of avoiding violence
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Tories sack candidate who said she would never support 'the Jew' Ed Miliband
Bali Nine executions: Indonesia confirms killings of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will go ahead
The four utterly contradictory polls that tell the story of this election and why it is pointless trying to predict the outcome
General Election 2015: Prospect of Labour-SNP coalition makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband, says survey
Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
iJobs Money & Business
£Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...
£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...
£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...