A delight to be with the knight of the BIS table

Did we get Vince Cable his knighthood? No, I don’t think so but it is worth reflecting on a well-deserved honour, however.
Under the good Doctor Cable’s leadership BIS transformed the way it interacted with the hugely-important SME sector of the economy, really listening and proposing real life solutions in a way that few, if any, of his predecessors did.
Rather than appointing yet more SME ‘czars’ , usually minor TV celebrities with little or no real understanding of the challenges faced by small business, Vince, and his BIS, quickly identified that of all the issues out there, access to finance from a reluctant banking sector was top of the agenda, and set about doing something about it.
His ringing endorsement of the ABF initiative at its launch in March of last year, and the subsequent involvement of his brainchild, the British Business Bank in the delivery of a new, less bank-reliant SME funding ecosystem, speaks volumes about his effectiveness in getting things done.
Taking on the banking establishment and forcing them to collaborate with competitive funders was no small thing, this is a powerful lobby. The speed at which the proposed legislation went from idea (ours, I might add) through consultation and working groups and into law showed both an understanding of the problem and a determination to do something about it.
Having been personally involved in all parts of this process, both through the consultation and working group pre-legislation stages, I have experienced first-hand the reality of engaging and working with officials from both BIS, The British Business Bank and The Treasury.
Quite contrary to the possibly unfair and outdated perceptions of civil servants, these guys were, without exception, switched on, open to new ideas and in full blown listening mode, which made the whole experience a pleasure.
Clearly, as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills for five years, Vince has many credits to his name. That part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act that forces the banks to mend their ways may not be the most glamorous of them, but will probably be the most far reaching and effective over time.
It has been my pleasure to meet the former Minister on a number of occasions during this process, and he (or rather his department) were kind enough to invite me to the Mansion House for the last two years as a guest at the Trade and Industry dinner. This was particularly pleasing as the last one also marked the end of his tenure at BIS and I was able to have a chat and thank him personally for a job well done.
So I’ll say it again. Bravo Vince, enjoy your knighthood. I hope your successor, Sajid Javid, is as effective and pragmatic.