Small Talk: It's not just the start-ups that are in need of a helping hand

In an economy where the Government talks loud and long about how it wants small companies to power the recovery, what precisely does it mean by small? All too often, for small companies, read start-up businesses, new ventures founded by entrepreneurs from scratch.

Some of these firms will no doubt play a part in generating the growth of the future, but the focus on start-ups – whether in Whitehall or the media – does a disservice to existing businesses that have already proved their worth. After all, small but already growing businesses stand much more chance of creating large numbers of jobs than a company launching on the basis of an untested entrepreneurial dream.

Banks and equity investors know this, which is why SMEs that were already standing on their own two feet used to be able, when markets were functioning normally, to raise money. That may no longer be so true, but it is clear that many in the private sector still know well on which side their bread is likely to be buttered.

It was interesting, for example, to see WH Ireland's launch this week of the UK EIS Growth Fund, a product that aims to capitalise on the new tax breaks associated with the enterprise investment scheme. Unlike other EIS providers, WH Ireland intends to invest only in established businesses – and only quoted companies at that – because it thinks this will be both less risky and more rewarding.

Ministers, however, don't always seem to get the message, preferring to concentrate on the sexy end of the SME market or on much larger businesses. A report just out from the London School of Economics provides a good example of Government short-sightedness. It says the decision last year to abolish the Grants for Business Investment scheme was a mistake.

The scheme, offering growing small companies financial help with projects set to create jobs, was a cheap measure, particularly in the context of the cost of unemployment benefits. Its partial replacement, a scheme offering grants only to bigger companies, is nowhere near such good value, the LSE concluded.

Adam Posen, pictured, the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member, also wants to see more help given to SMEs. He told a TUC conference last week that the US is bouncing back from recession more quickly than the UK precisely because it offers so much support to established SMEs. And he complained that all the talk from the Chancellor in the autumn of credit easing had so far come to little. Over to you, Mr Osborne.

LPA sees the light with Siemens' LED order

Bright news from Alternative Investment Market-listed manufacturing company LPA: it's just picked up a £600,000 order from Siemens for its LED lighting products, which the German industrial giant will install on new trains for the Warsaw metro, pictured.

LPA has already won a similar contract for the Heathrow Express, and its latest win augurs well for a pitch to the Munich Metro. What's pleasing, says house broker XCap, is that LED lighting is a key contributor to LPA's profitability. Though its LED products made only £2.4m of the company's £17.3m sales in the year to last September, XCap thinks they accounted for a "substantial element" of group operating profit. That element is about to become even more substantial, says XCap, which is now reviewing its 50p price target for the stock.

Clean Air Power is running smoothly

Who'd be the owner of a fleet of heavy trucks? With fuel prices grinding ever higher, powering such a fleet is becoming ever more expensive. Higher taxes on carbon emissions only add to the pressure.

Enter Clean Air Power, an Alternative Investment Market-listed manufacturer of a new type of combustion technology that enables heavy-duty diesel engines to run on a combination of diesel and natural gas. That cuts both fuel costs and emissions. After a lacklustre 18 months on Aim, which saw the company's shares fall from above 20p to just 3p before Christmas, the stock last week, climbed from 7p to 13p in two days. Behind the rise was a £700,000 order for 27 of Clean Air Power's units from an unnamed logistics company.

Small Businessman of the Week: Emerging markets are a key factor

Steve Good is chief executive of Low & Bonar

"Leveraging your business expertise in domestic markets and focusing that on emerging markets, deploying it in the areas with potential for growth, that is going to be the key to driving your business in the coming years.

"It is up to the market and to private enterprise to drive those [export] opportunities and to capitalise on those opportunities: government can support that but it can't drive or create, they're the facilitators not the drivers.

"That said, some countries have been more supportive of manufacturers than in the UK – in Belgium and Holland, for example, labour market flexibility during the recession enabled employers to keep on staff for whom there was no work, retaining their skills base when business picked up again."

Low & Bonar manufactures and supplies performance materials including yarns, fabrics and fibres to industrial clients from a range of sectors. Its annual results are published tomorrow.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence