As predicted, the recent Queen’s Speech contained further commitment from this government to drive positive action benefitting small and medium-sized businesses in the UK.
The Small Business Bill will be published on 16 June 2014, followed by Second Reading, Committee and Report Stages and Third Reading of the Bill in the Commons before it reaches the Lords and completes its passage through both Houses by March 2015, in time for the General Election.
This is expected to be a fairly extensive bill that tackles many of the issues SMEs face and is the first consolidated attempt to provide comprehensive government support targeted directly at this vital component of the UK economy.
The coalition government should be congratulated for taking this decisive action.
However, as is always the way, the devil lies in the detail and we will have to wait until next week to find out just how this is all going to work in practice.
Our interest in this area is twofold.
Firstly, as innovators in the area of SME finance through our pension-led funding solution, we are acutely aware that the major lenders have long dominated the landscape, with many business owners simply unaware that they have credible and actionable choices in the funding marketplace. Any move by the government to legitimise alternatives is positive, and embedding the notion of the acceptability of alternative funding methods in legislation is an extraordinary advance.
Secondly, as the founding and developing partner of the funding portal www.alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk we can rightly claim to have helped advance the thinking in this area. The government’s own consultation document explicitly references a portal option for banks to refer their rejected SME clients and we have been involved in this conversation from the start.
It remains to be seen how the government will interpret and implement this thinking going forward, but at the very least this vital area of funding is now well and truly on the radar.