SUPPORTING SMALLER FIRMS IS CRUCIAL TO DRIVING ECONOMIC RECOVERY
May 13 2013.


Commenting on the report by Lord Young - 'Growing Your Business' - published today, Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:


"Lord Young is right to place emphasis on the growth of smaller firms, who unlike some of the UK's larger companies, need support and encouragement to help them become the wealth creators of tomorrow. Small and micro businesses will only be able to fulfill their full potential once measures are put in place to help them access the finance, skills and services they need to grow.

"Lord Young has identified a number of these measures in his report and we are pleased to see him address the problem of access to finance which is still hurting the growth potential of many firms. But the focus must now be on getting these proposals off the ground so they can actually make a real difference to the business community, and in turn, drive the economic recovery. Chambers of Commerce across the UK stand ready to ensure businesses are given all the support they need as they embark on their growth journeys over the crucial months ahead."

Commenting on the Growth Voucher Scheme, Adam Marshall said:

"The BCC proposed a Growth Voucher scheme in September 2012 to help businesses that want to grow gain access to crucial services and advice. We were pleased that the Chancellor accepted our proposal by announcing the Growth Voucher scheme in the 2013 Budget and committed £30m to the scheme itself.

"Chambers of Commerce around the country look forward to working with the government to bring the scheme to life - and enable businesses to get the specialist assistance they need."

Commenting on the proposed procurement measures, Adam Marshall said:

"Across the country, small firms tell us that they would be keen to compete for more of the public sector contracts advertised in their local areas. They regularly tell us that it is hard to break into procurement by local councils and other bodies, due to onerous information and application requirements. Lord Young is right to call for better access to local procurement for small firms, and for the abolition of hated Pre-Qualification Questionnaires and other bureaucracy that stop many small companies from competing for council business in the first place.

"Small businesses also report difficulties in pitching new products to the public sector outside formal invitations to tender. This is a wasted opportunity as it would bring private-sector knowhow into securing efficiencies for our public services. We support Lord Young's call to make this process easier for SMEs.

"However, central government will need to do more than just exhort and encourage local authorities to open up procurement to smaller firms. Indeed it may need to look at ways to sanction councils and agencies that don't let Britain's SMEs compete for their business."