People & Business

The Government launched its new taskforce for the creative industries - media, music and television - yesterday after initially announcing the move to a rather muted reception three months ago. There are worrying signs, however, that this latest luvvies' crusade could turn into a flat souffle.

Chris Smith, culture secretary, held the launch meeting at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in Trafalgar Square. The luvvies, however, were nowhere to be seen. Shame on you, Richard Branson. Tut tut, David Puttnam. On the other hand, perhaps I shouldn't be too hard on the absent personalities. They were probably off doing some proper work.

Bill Simpson, chief executive of British bed maker Silentnight, tells me Tony Blair could have done far better than buying an imported Duxiana bed for more than pounds 3,000.

Mr Simpson is miffed that the PM didn't give more support to British industry by buying his bed locally: "Mr Blair could have bought a Sealy [bed] and he would have enjoyed the experience just as much."

The Silentnight boss says people in this country replace their beds on average once every 15 years whereas in the US they buy new beds every 10 years. Perhaps that's because American citizens tend to be larger.

Best wishes to Daniel Godfrey, marketing director of Flemings, who fell off his 1500cc Kawasaki motorbike. "I had to spend several hours in casualty - I had a couple of cracked ribs and rather a large hole in my left leg," our hero tells me. The bike was hardly damaged but he won't be riding it again. Now he's interesting himself in safer pursuits, such as helping launch Flemings' Eastern Europe Fund on 18 October.

Jonathan Helliwell, HSBC James Capel's senior European media analyst, is moving to Goldman Sachs. Mr Helliwell started as a printing and paper analyst at Kleinwort Benson in 1986 before moving on to Swiss Bank Corporation and then Capel.

Mr Helliwell will join Goldman's media team of Guy Lamming and Mathew Walker. In typical musical-chairs fashion, Mr Lamming started off at James Capel, left for Goldman, then went to SBC Warburg and last May went back to Goldman. Mr Lamming used to work alongside Neil Blackley, who left Goldman for Merrill Lynch in August last year.

Goldman has also signed Francis Woollen, a top rated European telecoms analyst, currently at UBS.

The independent insolvency firm, Buchler Phillips, has just poached a receiver from Arthur Andersen. Andersen is the giant American firm where David Buchler and Peter Phillips used to work before they founded Buchler Phillips 10 years ago.

BP has signed up Jamie Gleave, an insolvency practitioner at Andersen, to head up its new Manchester office. Simon Freakly, another Buchler Phillips partner and former Andersen man, admits his niche boutique has an excellent relationship with the Chicago-based firm. "We often refer assignments to each other." But doesn't Andersen mind having its insolvency partners nicked all the time? "We are friendly competitors," he replies.

It's a packed calendar for the UK's receivers, despite the relative dearth of companies going bust. Next Wednesday the Insolvency Practitioners Association holds its annual Bernard Phillips Memorial Lecture. The lecture is named after the late Bernard Phillips, Peter Phillips' father, who was also a noted insolvency practitioner and who worked for Arthur Andersen.

Friendly societies are preparing to play a key role in New Labour's plans for welfare reform. So says Bob Pollard, chief executive of the Ancient Order of Foresters, who has just been elected president of the Association of Friendly Societies.

Mr Pollard will be backed up by Roy Hurley, chief executive of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society, who has been elected vice president.

Perhaps I could take these societies more seriously if they didn't sound like Freemasons' lodges in a Monty Python sketch. I mean, what's the Manchester Society of Odd Fellows all about? To be fair, the societies' titles often date back to the 16th century. They were set up "to provide self help on a mutual basis" - a phrase which chimes with New Labour.

Mr Pollard says: "The Government is open to new ideas and believes that current welfare provision is not serving the poorest members of society as it should." Mr Pollard wants us to move towards a "a system that gives a hand up, not a hand out". Those words wouldn't have been out of place coming from Margaret Thatcher.

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