The plethora of initiatives aimed at supporting SMEs is too complex for companies to navigate, MPs on the business department select committee inquiry found. They called for the National Audit Office to investigate the 600 different taxpayer-funded support initiatives. However, Matthew Hancock, the business minister, described the committee’s conclusions as “out of date already”. “In December we brought ‘hundreds of schemes’ together in our Great Business website. Now, all schemes will be either under UKTI for exports, the British Business Bank for finance, and the Business Growth Service for advice.”
Most of government has no experience of the real world of small business. And for avoidance of doubt, assisting fictitious Chinese companies at £8,000 a day does not for this purpose count as experience of running a small business. Of course support initiatives are too complex and inaccessible to be useful to small businesses. But of course everyone knows that they aren’t there to actually support small businesses – they’re there to give the impression that government is doing something to support them, which is a quite different objective and one which they perform quite well. The best thing that government can do to support small businesses is get out of the way and leave them to get on with it.