Business Extra: SMEs after the budget cuts

 

Small and medium-sized businesses can rarely have enjoyed so much attention as they are gaining at the moment. It seems that hardly a day goes by without a minister or other opinion former marking them out for playing a key role in the shake-up of society that is expected to be part and parcel of the Coalition’s attempt to bring down the national deficit.

Of course, not everybody is convinced that curtailing public spending is the way to bring on an economic recovery, with many questioning how business as a whole is supposed to expand when so many of Britain’s traditional trading partners are suffering economic woes at least as serious as our own. Then there is the issue of how many people who lose their jobs in the public sector as a result of the cuts will be able to find employment in the private sector (even if they can make the attitudinal adjustments supposedly necessary).

But nobody could accuse the SME community of not being up for the challenge. Which is just as well. Since this would appear to be the perfect opportunity for growing businesses to demonstrate that they are as dynamic, imaginative and as proficient at wealth creation as they claim.

Fortuitously, this month sees the latest Global Enterprise Week, an initiative that began life as Enterprise Week back in 2004 and acts as a sort of showcase for entrepreneurs, with a particular emphasis on promoting enterprise for young people. This year’s event, which begins on November 15, features such successful entrepreneurs as Brent Hoberman, co-founder of lastminute.com, Julie Meyer of Ariadne Capital and Sara Murray, founder of the price-comparison site confused.com as well as such established business leaders as Richard Lambert of the Confederation of British Industry; David Frost of the British Chambers of Commerce and Miles Templeman of the Institute of Directors as well as Tom Bewick, chief executive of Enterprise UK, which co-ordinates the British end of the week.

The launch, to be held at the London HQ of Google, is due to be attended by the Prime Minister, who has already pledged his support for the “doers and grafters, the inventors and entrepreneurs” whom he believes will lead the recovery. He has already moved a step beyond the rhetoric of supporting enterprise by appointing former businessman and Thatecher-era Cabinet minister Lord Young to head a review aimed at ending the state’s 'institutional bias' against awarding contracts to smaller businesses. So it will be interesting to see what he has to say to encourage those who have been charged with leading the economic recovery.

In the meantime, Enterprise UK’s Bewick is confident that the '32,000 events in over 100 countries around the world, exposing people of all ages to quality entrepreneurial experience' will be inspirational in setting the 'enterprise-led recovery' in motion. However, it will surely take more than a few well-judged case studies to really get things going. Once the deficit reduction appears to be under way, taxes will have to fall so that there are greater incentives to create wealth. And the Government will need to help encourage training – in similar ways to the help promised for adult apprenticeships.

Another way could be for the Government to encourage large businesses - which have as much interest in a thriving economy as so-called entrepreneurial concerns - to divert some of their corporate responsibility activities towards areas that could make a real long-term difference. One such initiative has been launched by the consulting firm Accenture. It has an international corporate citizenship programme Skills to Succeed that it hopes will by 2015 equip 250,000 people with the skills to get a job or build a business.

In Britain, this involves it working with the Prince’s Youth Business International to provide mentoring, training and other assistance to disadvantaged young people so that they can become successful entrepreneurs, helping the Prince’s Trust place 40,000 young people a year in jobs or education and training and using the Eden Project to give hundreds of unemployed young adults the practical skills to succeed in the labour market.

Leave aside for the moment the fact that this should be the job of the education system - which currently seems to be failing the country as much as the young people who go through it. Business, of all shapes and sizes, needs to show its real commitment to enterprise and to a 'can-do' attitude by stepping in and sorting out the training issue while - with any luck - the politicians and policymakers can decide how they can properly educate and equip for work the next generation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935