So Business Secretary Vince Cable has taken steps to ensure that he’s very much in the swing of things when it comes to business and enterprise policies with the launch of a new Entrepreneurs' Forum.
Up to 26 business people will sit on the forum, including Jan Fletcher, whose wide-ranging commercial interests include property investment and development, natural health products and restaurants, Flowecrete Group chair Dawn Gibbins and Bravissimo founder Sarah Tremellen.
Mr Cable says he is delighted with the quality of the new team and is looking forward “to bouncing ideas off them and hearing their views”…although maybe not as much as his forum members are looking forward to speaking their minds on how the entrepreneurial climate in the UK can be made more friendly towards start-up and new businesses.
One area the forum will be looking at is increasing the rate of female entrepreneurship, something its membership should be well qualified to advise on.
As Mr Cable so rightly says: "People with the courage to start up a business will be crucial to driving the growth of the economy. Start-ups create jobs, stimulate innovation and provide a competitive spur to existing businesses to encourage them to increase their productivity.”
Although it’s a little disappointing that the forum’s first meeting is not expected to take place until early in the year, taking steps like this show that the government at least appears to be serious about breaking down the barriers that prevent people from starting a business. And doing that is a piece of horse sense that nobody could argue with.
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In the run-up to the event, much of the spirit of co-operation that characterised the immediate aftermath of the ‘credit crunch’ two years ago appeared to have evaporated. While the USA was under pressure for running a massive trade deficit and devaluing its currency through quantitative easing, China was being similarly pressured for holding its currency at an artificially-low level.
Following talks at the summit in Seoul, South Korea, the leaders agreed to avoid ‘competitive devaluation’ and also pledged to come up with ‘indicative guidelines’ on how to correct distortions in currency and trade.
While it is to be welcomed that the heads of state at least agree on the problem, reaching a solution will not be easy. One of the biggest issues in the weakness of China’s currency, the yuan, which critics say gives the country’s exporters an unfair advantage as well as allowing the country to amass huge foreign reserves.
China has responded that it will allow the yuan to gradually appreciate, but only when global economic conditions are right. Proposals for a four per cent limit on deficits or surpluses were blocked by China and Germany – the two biggest exporters in the G20.
While other countries’ concern at the Chinese position is understandable, it is difficult to criticise them for holding their currency down when other countries, such as the USA and UK, have effectively done the same through interest rate cuts and quantitative easing.
While the immediate threat of a currency war may have receded, this issue may crop up again in future as countries’ put their own interests ahead of those of the global economy. However, the fact that governments at least recognise such an outcome would not be desirable is positive news.
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He says: “To that end, I will be touring the country, and am working on ways to help anyone reach me with their ideas.” Let’s hope he isn’t trampled in the rush of entrepreneurs wanting to tell it like it is.
Lord Young certainly seems to be singing from the same hymn sheet as small and medium-sized enterprises up and down the country who are the lifeblood pulsing through the British economy and helped to deliver national prosperity.
The new enterprise “tsar” comes from a background in small business and he understands the issues these enterprises face.
He also understands that over recent years, they have faced obstacle after obstacle. Now his goal is to make government more small-business friendly and encourage the birth and growth of new firms.
Three cheers for that, we say. Lord Young starts his article with a frank admission that he has no power in his “tsar” role. What he does have is the ear of the Prime Minister and the sooner he starts talking, the better.
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