Finance Yorkshire chief says entrepreneurs not benefitting from Government initiatives

Alex McWhirter, Chief Executive of Finance Yorkshire

Alex McWhirter, Chief Executive of Finance Yorkshire, has issued a stark view of the Government’s efforts to help SMEs and entrepreneurs, saying the Government is so busy launching new initiatives that it fails to ensure they reach and benefit the businesses they’re designed to help.

The comment comes after the findings of the 2012 Entrepreneurs’ Survey confirm that the region’s SMEs feel that the Government’s myriad initiatives do not hit the target and that the Government is launching too many initiatives to be effective.

“Entrepreneurs are telling me they don’t know what is going on in terms of Government aid and advice, which concurs with the findings of this year’s Survey,” says Alex McWhirter. “As the Survey shows, the Government needs to reduce the number of new initiatives it is launching and to work harder on the main ones to ensure they reach entrepreneurs more clearly and usefully. Inundating business owners with new initiatives is counter-productive and really our entrepreneurs should be better-placed to benefit from Government assistance.

“There are so many things put out by the Government but not properly communicated or coordinated – initiative after initiative – that it’s a case of the Government having ‘initiativitis’. Entrepreneurs are not saying what the Government is trying doesn’t work, they’re saying they can’t understand it to see if it works because they’re drowning in a sea of proposals and schemes.”

Mr McWhirter has welcomed the findings of the annual Entrepreneurs’ Survey of the Yorkshire and Humber region, commissioned by international law firm Nabarro and Barber Harrison & Platt (BHP), Yorkshire’s leading independent firm of chartered accountants. He added:

“Despite the poor communication of advice and initiatives, Yorkshire start-ups that were at half the national level in 2000 are now equal to, or even above, national level.”

The 2012 Survey of Entrepreneurs across the Yorkshire and Humber region shows that the majority of respondents (65%) have not even heard of the initiatives.

Nabarro partner Ben Hendry said: “A ‘one size fits all’ approach to funding will not work. The Survey shows that Yorkshire SMEs have specific characteristics, such as little appetite to raise finance to fund growth or to take advantage of tax breaks and other Government initiatives. The fact is that initiatives have to be tailored to meet our region’s specific needs.”

In particular, initiatives to help with mentoring and exporting are failing to reach the region’s SMEs . Only 38% of respondents had been contacted by any mentoring service and 42% were not even aware of the Government’s mentoring campaigns. Only 5% cent of respondents had received Government export support through UKTI.

Mike Maddock, MD of Performance Engineered Solutions, says export is vital to business growth: “You can drive your business around the town or around the world. There is a huge market out there, why would you turn your back on it?”

Graham Royle, chairman and CEO of GRI Group, emphasises the point: “The UK is less than one per cent of the world market, so you have to reach into the rest of the world to sell products.”

Note: this news article is from Finance Yorkshire’s previous fund. Read more about Finance Yorkshire