Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Cross-party inquiries must stop another Carillion and shine a light on mis-selling, say small firms

Welcoming the launch of a BEIS Select Committee inquiry into supply chain bullying and small business productivity, and a Treasury Select Committee inquiry into access to finance for small firms, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry,said:

“It’s great to see parliament announcing new cross-party investigations to tackle the many issues facing small firms today. 

“The collapse of Carillion provides a mere glimpse of the pernicious supply chain bullying culture which is sadly rife among big corporations. Taking forward FSB recommendations for ending a late payment crisis that causes 50,000 business deaths a year should be the BEIS inquiry’s top priority. What we can’t have is another Carillion scenario in future. 

“Small firms account for 99 per cent of the UK business community. The solution to closing our productivity gap lies in incremental output gains among small firms and the self-employed, not headline-grabbing initiatives from big multinationals. We look forward to working with the BEIS committee on routes to upskilling small businesses and encouraging them to innovate and invest.

“From the staircase tax, to GRG, to cash machine cuts, the Treasury Committee has been vocal on the issues that matter to the small firms in recent months.

“As it launches this new inquiry, the Committee is right to flag the absence of regulatory reform around small business lending since the financial crash. That’s despite hundreds of entrepreneurs being driven to the wall by banking scandals during the downturn. The FCA’s most recent set of recommendations for increasing small business access to redress fall well short of the mark. We encourage the Treasury Committee to keep the pressure on regulators during this inquiry. 

“Only one in ten small firms currently applies for external finance. The majority of small businesses rely on traditional loan or overdraft facilities from banks, even though they may well not be the right products for them. We need to get more small firms thinking about all of their options while breaking down misconceptions around equity finance. We look forward to working with the Treasury Committee to scrutinise these issues in the weeks ahead.”