The Genesis Initiative was formed to improve the quality of the debate on SMEs in the UK and Europe and create economic reform, driven by SMEs and supported by Parliamentarians.
The Genesis delegation, led by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Founder Patron of Genesis, has just returned from a programme of meetings with Think Tanks, academics, political leaders and SME organisations in Washington DC. We went to find out what we could learn, what we could share and how we could generate new ideas together to strengthen the SME community.
“Through projects such as Opportunity Zones, the long-term lending schemes of the Smaller Business Administration, (this is in effect patient capital with low-interest loans over up to 25 years) plus work on entrepreneurship policy through the cutting edge of academic research, we found much to bring home,” said Genesis Consultant CEO David Harvey. “Equally we found many problems in common. Not enough small businesses are on the growth track towards employing 5, 50 or 500 people – and this is how prosperous new jobs, rather than survival jobs, are created in both our economies. Both economies have real challenges in developing enough STEM-skilled (science, technology, engineering and maths) young people. Both economies too are finding it challenging to provide the right offer for those in middle area skilled jobs in areas such as finance, junior management, hospitality, manufacturing and retail.”
“We found learning and fresh thinking in areas such as immigration, minority employment and start-ups, tax reform and measuring small business success. We discovered the entire patchwork quilt of policies across the 50 states of the USA and the opportunities that local knowledge and state and city government can provide with a real state-by-state localism. Equally, this localism and federalism also means it is sometimes very difficult to know what is really going in SME policy, driven and planned locally rather than from Washington DC. We saw that the success of the SME sector is enormously varied across the USA and an aggregate picture of growth and dynamism in one city shifts to decline in another. There is much here to learn for UK cities and towns and the often ignored rural and suburban areas of the UK, often feeling left behind the cities”.
Genesis would particularly like to thank our hosts and partners the Progressive Policy Institute, for this collaboration.
The Genesis Senate has discussed key proposals for the reform and empowerment of the Office of the Small Business Commissioner
The Small Business Commissioner was launched in 2017 to provide both scrutiny and public voice against bad payment practices. The office of the Commissioner also provides a mediation service to help small businesses, in particular, sought out ratepayers. As a member of the Genesis Board was able to report through direct experience, that service is extremely effective. “It knocks out the extra muscle which big businesses sometimes think they have again small ones that means they can ignore debts outstanding, once I involve the office of the Commissioner payment was almost instantaneous”.
However, the Senate sees two ways in which the powers of the Commissioner should be strengthened. Genesis had called for a more empowered role for the Commissioner, overseeing a number of other areas, before the post was created. In particular:
Here is the simple process you can use working through the office of the Commissioner – complain about late payment, the Commissioner Paul Uppal is active, his staff get things done.
Getting headspace for small business issues has been challenging with the national focus on Brexit. However, the SME debate may be starting to come back to life with the competition for a new Prime Minister.
Genesis made this submission in June on the minimum wage low pay commission response – June 2019. Genesis SME trade associations support a minimum wage. They also recognise the need for review and uplift for those on apprenticeship and training pathways, particularly for younger workers. However, Genesis recognises that a small business owner is often the last person to take a wage packet when things are tough and that it may not take much to shift a decision to employ a new trainee towards one not to advertise or create a vacancy. Genesis noted:
The Genesis Access to Finance Report was launched on the 29th of November in the Thames Pavilion at the House of Commons, hosted by Chris Davies MP and Anne Marie Morris MP. The report is based on the views of organisations, representing some 250,000 businesses, together with a range of lenders to business.
Despite concerns about a “funding gap” stopping the growth of UK SMEs, there is funding out there in abundance. This Report brings the thoughts and the aspirations from both the borrower and lender sides of the divide together. Particularly as a hangover from the global financial crisis of a decade ago, lack of confidence in lenders is one obstacle discouraging SME’s from adopting a growth trajectory; lack of a brokerage system that could bring SMEs and lenders together to build confidence is another.
Download the Genesis Access to Finance Report, produced by Genesis finance expert and Board member Adam Tyler and his team.
Genesis responded to the BEIS late payment consultation Creating a Responsible Business Culture. The response was initiated through the Genesis Senate at its September 2018 meeting and then finalised by a delegated working party, you can download it Responsible Payment Culture – the Genesis initiative response here. Genesis emphasised the following central points in its response:
• BEIS should focus on introducing e-invoicing technology and make it the Code of Practice standard, to move towards most payment being virtually instantaneous.
• There should be a clear definition of unfair payment terms, using the Irish Republic’s approach and adopting 30-day payment term as the legal norm, on a comply or explain basis.
• The SME Commissioner should be empowered, and the current advisory approach to individual cases should become an enforcement-based one, where the Commissioner could work in partnership with business associations through simple employment tribunal-like structures to secure rapid adjudication.
Genesis launched its Making Tax Digital report on the government’s proposals to digitise tax relationships, at a reception hosted by Mel Stride MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury. The report can be accessed via this link MTD – Preparing SMEs to maximise the benefits “The government’s proposals to digitise tax relationships offer a tremendous opportunity to support small businesses develop better digital skills throughout their commercial activities. HMRC needs to provide that digital’s training and support to seize this opportunity”, said Genesis CEO, David Harvey.
The report looks at the post Brexit challenges to 350,000 UK financial services SMEs, authored by the Genesis Financial Services Working Party, led by Dr David Doyle. It can be downloaded here Brexit Defending financial services in the SME sector