PM told to back small business

DAVID Cameron’s enterprise adviser has urged the government to help the UK’s micro businesses, arguing growing firms with fewer than 10 staff will be a key driver of the economic recovery.

Lord Young uses a report released today to recommend an expansion of the government’s start-up loans programme, a £30m scheme to provide better business advice to young firms, and measures to make it easier for small businesses to bid for public sector contracts.

“If just half of the UK’s micro businesses took on an additional member of staff, unemployment would be reduced to almost zero,” said Young, who served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher.

However the report has already been criticised by union leaders because it suggests a recession can be “an excellent time to start a business” due to the availability of cheap labour and office space. Young says the government should allow entrepreneurs to use the start-up loan scheme, which offers business mentoring and cheap unsecured loans of around £4,500 to people wanting to set up their own company. At the moment only people aged under 30 can apply.

He also wants procurement procedure to be standardised across local government and the NHS, making it easier for firms to bid for contracts.

The government says it will look to implement the recommendations of the peer, who has his own office in Downing Street.

Young was forced to resign from the role in October 2010 after he suggested the “so-called recession” was not affecting the standard of living for most people. He returned to the job and helps guide business strategy.