Support for small business ministry

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The Independent Online
THE Government should create a small business ministerial post of cabinet rank to recognise the increasingly important role this sector plays in the economy, according to the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants.

The association, which has joined a growing number of organisations backing the sector, said in its small business manifesto published last Tuesday that the ideal solution would be 'a separate and influential ministry, subsuming the Ministry of Agriculture' - since most farms are small businesses.

The document, which contains several commitments from the association as well as recommendations for the Government, also called for ministerial initiatives to provide 'marriage bureaux' between businesses and private investors, or business angels. In addition, it suggested the introduction of community bonds backed by tax incentives to encourage individuals and companies to invest in their localities, and measures to boost provision of long-term finance.

Moreover, it said that directors of all but the smallest companies should be required to establish their knowledge of financial and legal responsibilities, and that the Government should simplify the process of disincorporation and make limited liability more difficult to obtain.

In return, the association, which has traditionally reflected the small business interests of its members through such initiatives as opposing the abolition of the statutory audit for smaller companies, said it would develop a programme to make certified accountants more valuable to the sector. It will support this through such steps as introducing awards for the best-managed small businesses, and running seminars with special emphasis on business profitability.

Anthea Rose, the association's chief executive, said: 'This manifesto should not be regarded as simply a shopping list of action points for Government and others to implement. It represents an ongoing commitment on the part of the association to do what it can to help the survival and growth of a vital sector of our economy.'