By Amanda Vigar, Managing Partner, V&A Bell Brown LLP
Congratulations to Sajid Javid MP on his appointment as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and to Damian Hinds MP as Exchequer Secretary.
Both are new to their jobs, so let’s get them started on the right tracks and remind them that the Battle-axe will be watching every move they make.
Of course, she will also be letting them know (directly) what she thinks of their performance! One wonders if the rolling pin will get through security at the House of Commons?
Sajid has started by making the right noises. One of his first pronouncements was to recognise small business (the Government’s beloved SMEs) as the "engine room" of British industry, vowing to get "heavy-handed" regulators off their backs.
A welcome sentiment, but the proof of the pudding will be in how much he can achieve in the next five years with the dark satanic red-tape mills of the EU still working overtime!
Sajid needs to be telling Mr Cameron to take a hard line in Europe on the mountains of regulations they produce every year. Up and down the UK entrepreneurs are swamped with unpaid admin work they do for the government (and Brussels) – you may remember the article about it a few months ago where it was estimated that an average small business spends 22 days a year on it.
If anything is going to put off people from setting up in business or employing people it's the pain and non-value added admin that goes with it.
As a former banker Sajid should know how the banking system works. I will be expecting him to look at why the banks are still making big noises in public about lending to SMEs then forcing them to jump through so many hoops that they are put off applying for the finance needed to develop their businesses.
Maybe we should just give up on the banks and ask him to expand the Growth Fund programme that has seen critical expansion money being lent to the life blood of the UK economy.
How about using the cash from the sale of the taxpayers shares in Lloyds and maybe one day RBS to top up the fund?
Or better still why not give more enhanced reliefs for entrepreneurs investing into the future of their business – not just on exit but up front relief! After all, they actually keep people in jobs, so the money saved on benefits could be recycled to encourage investment.
Meanwhile Damian claims to have worked in the pub/hotel industry for 18 years so should be well used to the effect of excise duties on drinking behaviour. As a result, it will be interesting to see if the alcohol excise duty is frozen in the forthcoming budget helping to slow the rate of pub closures that we have seen in recent times – often the last community facility in the village.