Procurement · 15 January 2018

New small business minister urged to prioritise GDPR and access to finance

The small business minister sits in the Department for Business,  Energy & Industrial Strategy
The small business minister sits in the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Could the appointment of a new small business minister reinvigorate the position vacated by Margot James? We’ve asked a handful of decision makers what areas they feel should be prioritised by Andrew Griffiths in the coming months to support small enterprise.

Following in the footsteps of Margot James, now a minister of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Andrew Griffiths enters the role with brief business experience in the 1980s at his family’s West Midlands engineering business, and at the Leeds Permanent Building Society (now Halifax).

Griffiths was elected as MP for Burton in 2010, and has held positions as chief as staff to both Theresa May and Eric Pickles MP, also working as a farming advisor for the Conservative Party in the European Parliament.

A key legacy left by James was her fight against late payments, bringing in payment reporting rules for large firms and the new small business commissioner. In the eyes of Britain’s small business owners, however, there is a lot more Griffiths could do to support entrepreneurs.

  1. GDPR

With the new data protection bill enforcing the EU’s GDPR directive in April 2018, the government has faced criticism for failing to effectively inform small business owners of new privacyobligations, and?a climate of fear has subsequently emerged.

Graham L. Morgan, SME advisor with national network?Business Doctors‘said addressing low awareness should be high on Griffiths? to-do list.

“I would suggest some real leadership around the implications of GDPR as a priority, he told us.

“From my consulting work with small business owners around the Cardiff area, I know that scores yet understand what is required of them in order to comply with the legislation.

With direct BEIS support seemingly lacking, small business owners have been left to’sweat overheavy penalties for non-compliance.

“If this isn’t promptly remedied, there will be a significant impact on GDP and economic activity, Morgan added.

  1. Fix the bank referral scheme

Chirag Shah, CEO of?Nucleus Commercial Finance, believes Griffiths’ passionate support of local pub businesses might see him campaign for better funding access for small firms struggling to meet bank finance requirements.

I expect that his awareness of this wider SME issue is strong, Shah said. This access must be prioritised, with a long and hard look at initiatives such as the bank referral scheme to ensure they are driving the desired results.”

The bank referral scheme was launched in November 2016 to improve access to finance for small business owners. The UK’s largest lenders are committed to passing on details of rejected loan applicants onto alternative finance providers.

However, after an unexpectedly low volume of referrals, the Treasury is reviewing the entire scheme, and research continues to reveal low levels of funding access for small business owners.

  1. Startup tax concessions

Sam Rogers, commercialdirector of Rampart PR, urged Griffiths to look at further tax concessions for startup founders as a way to improve survival rates of new businesses.

given the huge tax and administrative burdens on small businesses, whichmake up over 99 per cent of the UK economy, some concessions for in this regard for start-ups would be a real breath of fresh air, he explained.

more businesses would survive those difficult first few years, and the backbone of the economy might continue to strengthen.

  1. Skills shortage

A shortage of skilled workers has consistently been found to have affected small business productivity and growth in recent years, with over half of employers admitting they have recruited underqualified staff in the past year.As automation and roboticsbecome a greater part of UK workplaces, equipping the workforce for the future will be key.

With this in mind, Jonathan Richards, CEO of HR software platform breatheHR, urged Griffiths to prioritise the skills gap.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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