Politicians, business people and academics laud small business as the engine of the UK economy. Small businesses provide energy, enterprise and employment – Patricia Hewitt, Trade & Industry Secretary, claims that “we know that it’s small businesses that will create the jobs of the future” ** and make a substantial contribution to the success of UK plc.
Of the 3.7 million UK businesses, 3 million are small and medium sized. They provide work for 12.5m people and generate an estimated £400 billion of GDP.
Yet, despite this, small businesses and entrepreneurs are under-represented in political and business decision-making; don’t have a voice in media and political circles that matches the contribution they make to business and economic success; and are often hamstrung by unhelpful legislation and bureaucracy. They prosper – and help our economy prosper – despite, rather than because of the political and regulatory environment.
** Speech by Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary, Labour Party conference, September 2002.