The Prime Minister David Cameron is encouraging MPs to gain valuable ‘work experience’ in local small businesses by taking part in the Business Buddy scheme being run by the Forum of Private Business.
Business Buddy aims to foster a greater understanding of small businesses among politicians by providing them with hands-on experience of day-to-day life at a firm in their constituency.
As part of the scheme, on Friday 16 September Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin will visit Bridport Gourmet Pies in his West Dorset constituency.
"The Coalition Government is committed to making the coming decade the most entrepreneurial and dynamic in Britain’s history," said Mr Cameron, writing in support of the initiative.
"To make this a reality, we need to understand the real issues that small businesses face on a day-to-day basis and use that information to help ensure that entrepreneurs are given every opportunity to successfully start and grow their businesses.
The Prime Minister said he spent time visiting small businesses in his West Oxfordshire constituency and praised the region’s diverse range of firms – from renewable energy companies to specialist shops and cutting-edge design businesses.
"I would encourage all members of Parliament to take advantage of this opportunity to find out what it is really like to run a small business and to gain a better understanding of the many issues faced by small businesses across the country," he said.
Speaking ahead of his own visit, Mr Letwin said: "I am greatly looking forward to this visit. I see a lot of the work of local businesses but I always learn something new each time."
Business Secretary Vince Cable, Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas are also among the MPs, MSPs, Welsh Assembly members and MEPs to have signed up to Business Buddy.
The scheme came into being following Forum research in which almost three quarters (74%) of members surveyed called on their elected representatives to focus on small businesses in their constituencies.
Business Buddy is part of the Forum’s Get Britain Trading campaign, which is being supported by politicians, entrepreneurs and business leaders including the former Dragons’ Den star James Caan.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the important economic role played by small businesses and tackle the barriers preventing small businesses from growing and creating jobs.