As Global Entrepreneurship Week draws to a close, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) is urging the Government to use the event as a stimulus to creating conditions for starting and growing businesses.
The call follows research published earlier this year showing a sharper decline in perceptions of business opportunities in the UK than the average in other high-income countries.
Organised by Enterprise UK, Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009 involves a range of events across the country addressing various themes including free seminars on finance, women and entrepreneurship, social enterprises and pubic sector service delivery, networking and growing a business. It finishes on Sunday, 22 November.
In addition, the Government has focused on its work on business education and skills, including apprenticeships and encouraging more young people to become entrepreneurs.
At a parliamentary reception in Westminster on Thursday, 19 November, the Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, championed the UK as "Europe’s number one location for inward investment from other countries".
"Britain is a good place to do business," he said. "It’s all designed to try to foster talent, to try to inspire people either to start up on their own or maybe to think and work in an enterprising way in whatever career they choose in the future."
However, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), a consortium of international research associations, the picture for small businesses in the UK is not as healthy as other countries in the G7 and BRIC.
The GEM measured entrepreneurial activity by surveying working people in 43 countries across the world.
According to the research, the fieldwork for which was carried out in 2008, 27% of UK respondents anticipated ‘good opportunities’ for entrepreneurship – a decline from the 35% recorded in 2007, before the present economic turmoil.
On average, opportunity perception in other ‘innovation-driven’ countries dropped from 37% to 31% – less severe than in the UK, where the decline is the fourth largest overall, after Iceland, Ireland and Spain.
"Global Entrepreneurship Week is a positive initiative that we continue to support. But, although it is important to talk up Britain’s strengths, it is critical that we don’t ignore our weaknesses," said Nick Palin, the FPB’s Director of Finance. "This event must be more than a talking shop. It must be the springboard from which the Government creates an environment that fosters entrepreneurship and business growth, particularly as the UK comes out of recession."
Mr Goodman listed late payment, restrictions in accessing finance and the steep cost of lending and the burden of red tape and taxation as the major barriers to creating business opportunities in the UK.
In its submissions to the Pre-Budget Report, the FPB is calling for freeze on new business laws until the general election, a regular comprehensive review of regulation and a series of specific tax cuts to create an environment conducive to creating business opportunities, not restrictive.
In addition to its Health & Safety Guide and Employment Guide, which help small business owners negotiate red tape, the FPB has produced a Credit Control Guide
and another entitled ‘Get your bank manager to say ‘YES’!’ in response to mounting concerns over bank lending to smaller firms.