We're talking to Government about member concerns
Last week I attended a meeting in Westminster with the SME Growth Directorate team, who work at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy or BEIS. The meeting had been facilitated by Robert Buckland QC, who is the MP for South Swindon and the Solicitor General – and I wish to wholeheartedly thank him for arranging it and attending the meeting to support 4N.
In order for our members to have a voice when it comes to business at a national level, 4Networking needs to become part of the conversation proactively and this meeting was a very positive first step.
I shared 4Networking’s story, our model and national membership reach which appeared to be of great interest to the team. They also expressed a desire to find ‘new’ voices from the SME community beyond the organisations they already deal with and they welcomed the opportunity to engage with 4N and hear our concerns.
We discussed several government policies and wider economic issues which concern our members greatly, such as prompt payment, access to finance, support for start-ups, VAT threshold, business rates, exporting and the shortage of skilled workers.
Of course, we also discussed Brexit and GDPR. Our members feel growing uncertainty about our relationship with the EU post Brexit and they are concerned that while there has been some larger industry sector analysis there appears to be little impact assessment regarding SME’s. The same uncertainty can be felt regarding GDPR. While there has been acknowledgement that the rules will be relaxed for SME’s there is little clarification of what that means at an operational level. Time is running out and as we move into 2018 there is a real need for clarity and guidance so costly mistakes are not made.
From that meeting we’ve already had confirmation of their willingness to share information as it becomes available around GDPR, Brexit and the Small Business Commissioner. That can only be a good thing for both parties – it’s absolutely in the best interests of our government to have a well informed and involved SME community and that starts with a willingness from both parties to communicate.
Now we need the 4N community to be willing to engage fully in any conversation which emerges from these talks. We want you to get involved and have your voices heard.
This may be taking part in a survey, attending a meeting in a region organised by BEIS on, for example, GDPR or Brexit.
I’ll be acting upon any invitations to Westminster which emerge as a result of this dialogue that we’ve now established – but I cannot do it alone.
We are starting to take a proactive stance on your behalf and wish to become more visible to decision and policy makers at a national and international level – but we all have to show a commitment to engage.
If you are a member who would be willing to step forward and be part of any conversation around business at a local, regional or national level, please email my PA, Anna Foxx Neal now on email@example.com so we can act quickly and decisively when an opportunity comes along.
Don’t waste your opportunity to be heard about the things that matter to you and your business at the highest levels of government – your voice is a gift; it should be used. Powerlessness and silence go together.