The idea to remove the limit, currently set at 30 years old, is among a number of key recommendations made by the peer as he examined how to grow UKs SME and micro business sectors.
The Start-Up Loans initiative, launched last autumn, which provides funding and mentoring to new business owners, has lent 3,786 loans worth around £16m after an initial slow start. The StartUp Loans company, headed up by entrepreneur and ex-tv dragon James Caan, says that the average loan that they have awarded is approximately £4,500 and a total of £117.5m has been made available until 2015.
The loans are just one of several proposals which PM David Cameron said would help “fire up business growth” in the UK. Other recommendations by Lord Young, who in addition to serving as government advisor is also chairman of the small business accounting software provider[ilink url=”http://www.Kashflow.com”]Kashflow[/ilink], include:
The abolition of pre-qualification questionnaires for public sector contracts under €200,000, and the creation of “single market” principles which suppliers can expect when doing business with the public sector. This, according to Lord Young, would remove complexity and help small businesses access the £230bn per year that is spent on goods and services across the whole public sector.
Another proposal is the creation of a £30m voucher scheme to encourage firms to get expansion advice. Young hopes that specialist help on: expanding their workforce; marketing a business; financial management and growing online will boost SMEs ‘treading water’.
A new ‘Supporting Small Business Charter’ and award scheme to incentivise business schools to help SMEs grow. Business schools could also become a key part of the referral process and provision of Start-Up Loans and Growth Vouchers.
Enabling the private sector to provide small business advice on the government’s[ilink url=”http://www.GOV.UK”]GOV.UK[/ilink] website and releasing the advice that the government holds after the closure of the Business Link website to third party providers for them to rebuild and improve
Better marketing of government schemes to support new and developing businesses by ensuring they are properly resourced and targeted at the small firms that need them most.
Lord Young’s report focuses on micro businesses – those which have less than 10 employees, and which make up 96 per cent of all businesses in the UK.
“We have one of the best environments in the world for the creation of new firms. What this report endeavours to do is to help and encourage all those new firms to now take on their first employees and grow.”
“Growing our smallest businesses would transform our economy – they are the vital 96 per cent. If just half of the UK’s micro businesses took on an additional member of staff, unemployment would be reduced to almost zero. We need to raise the aspirations and confidence of these businesses and give them the tools to grow.”
David Cameron added: “It is very much true that Lord Young brings solutions to the table – his excellent report highlights the steps we can take to fire up business growth, helping to boost our competitiveness and ensuring the UK can get ahead in the fierce global race we are in. I thank him very much for his report.”
Commenting on the report, Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Lord Young is right to place emphasis on the growth of smaller firms, who unlike some of the UK’s larger companies, need support and encouragement to help them become the wealth creators of tomorrow. Small and micro businesses will only be able to fulfil their full potential once measures are put in place to help them access the finance, skills and services they need to grow.
“Lord Young has identified a number of these measures in his report and we are pleased to see him address the problem of access to finance which is still hurting the growth potential of many firms. But the focus must now be on getting these proposals off the ground so they can actually make a real difference to the business community, and in turn, drive the economic recovery. Chambers of Commerce across the UK stand ready to ensure businesses are given all the support they need as they embark on their growth journeys over the crucial months ahead.”
Lord Young talking about his report: