PM’s Business Council Must Represent All Businesses

August 29, 2023

Family Business UK, along with four other business organisations, has called on the Prime Minister to expand his new Business Council to ensure it better represents the UK business community.

In a joint letter Family Business UK, the Federation of Small Businesses, IPSE, Small Business Britain and the Employee Ownership Association said the new Business Council excludes 99 per cent of businesses in the UK, and risks the Prime Minister not receiving the full picture of the challenges facing businesses.

The full letter reads:

Dear Prime Minister,

Business Council: Representing the UK Business Community

We are writing to you on behalf of the millions of small and mid-sized businesses, self-employed people, family businesses and employee-owned organisations across the UK. These businesses make up the vast majority of UK businesses, and provide employment for millions of people.

We were pleased to hear that a new Business Council had been established. This provides an important opportunity for you to hear directly from businesses about the challenges they face on the frontline, as well as potential opportunities for investment and government support.

However, as it stands, the new Business Council excludes 99 per cent of the UK business sector; the sole traders, small and medium-sized businesses, family businesses and employee-owned firms who collectively employ well over half the UK workforce, and who are at the forefront of innovation, employment and wealth creation that the UK relies on for economic growth and prosperity. The businesses we represent are not only an important part of our economy today, but many are leading the way in areas like AI, the future of work and Net Zero. They have an important role in the economy of the future.

The challenges these businesses face in all our local communities are often very different to those faced by large, listed companies such as those so far represented on the Business Council. The challenges facing a Chief Executive of a large corporate, and their priorities, are often worlds away from smaller private businesses.

The interventions you make on behalf of those large corporates won’t necessarily work for smaller firms. With the full diversity of size and models amongst UK business not being represented on the Business Council, the issues facing the majority of businesses may be overlooked. Given the contribution of these businesses to the health, wealth, and long-term growth potential of the UK economy, this would be a significant risk to the aim of designing and driving the future of the British economy. There is also a clear risk on some issues where the business community strongly differs, which could mean you are briefed on it from a small group of like-minded individuals, overlooking the other side of the argument.

Each model of business ownership also faces unique challenges. Each requires specific support to help grow and attract investors into the UK. The needs of these different businesses can only be addressed if they have the chance to engage with government at the highest level.

As Prime Minister, we think it’s crucial that you hear what’s really happening at the frontline of business, and the practical new ideas we have for economic growth. We would ask therefore to either expand those attending your two Business Council meetings per year to include the diversity of UK business, or that you consider meeting with our organisations, together, in addition to it. We would discuss what we can bring to the table, to ensure all our businesses flourish.

Like you, we want the UK to have a thriving economy and a supportive regulatory and tax environment that enables businesses, communities and families prosper for generations to come.

We urge you not to miss the opportunity to make that a reality by ensuring the voice of SMEs, family businesses, the self-employed and employee-owned organisations is properly represented and heard through the Business Council or alongside it in a new, more diverse, business collective.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Davy, Chief Executive Officer, Family Business UK
Tina McKenzie, MBE, National Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses
Derek Cribb, Chief Executive Officer, IPSE
Michelle Ovens CBE, Founder, Small Business Britain
James de le Vingne, Chief Executive Officer, Employee Ownership Association


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