Unknown friends in very high places

For the third year running, and very much to my surprise, I have received the honour of being invited to meet the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (this time round Sajid Javid) at the Trade and Industry dinner held annually at The Mansion House and hosted by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of London.
Needless to say, I am very flattered by my continuing inclusion in this very grand and important event. The two previous occasions have been both enjoyable and informative, and I have been fortunate to meet many highly successful individuals from all parts of commerce and trade.
As I think I reported in a previous note, last year I very much enjoyed having the opportunity to chat with, and thank, the outgoing Secretary of State, Dr Vince Cable (although at that time none of us knew quite how outgoing he was shortly to become). I would hope that this year’s event offers me a similar opportunity to exchange ideas with the incumbent Sajid Javid. But what message will I bring?
I do have reservations about the way the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act referrals process is being handled, and I very publicly have made my point that the current direction of travel will, in all likelihood, lead to the failure, or only partial success of the original initiative (think Griggs appeals process, and how effective or otherwise that has been).
But I continue to believe that both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and British Business Bank have their heart in the right place and are showing real commitment in supporting the SME sector through many initiatives.
If I get the chance, however, I will suggest to the Secretary of State that he and his team could be a little bolder in this respect. The desire of the officials to avoid any and all possible slip ups in what is an untried and new initiative will without question serve to neuter its original bold simplicity.
So let’s hope we get the chance to chat on the night. There is a danger of the mandated bank referrals process being suffocated by bureaucratic well meaning, but I think I know just how to get it back on track.
We’ll see . . .