By Max Clarke

Over the past 9 months, 95% of policymakers at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills have visited a total of 123 businesses across the UK, in order to better their understanding of issues faced by the nation’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk will today spend his last ‘work experience’ day at Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company, a brick manufacturer based in Hampshire. It will be Mr Prisk’s fifth day of his ‘Week in Small Business’, an initiative which has given him valuable insight into the day-to-day experiences of Britain’s small enterprises.

The Minister has worked with five separate businesses, all in different markets, to gain a strong understanding of the daily issues facing SMEs.

“It is vital“, said Mr Prisk ,”that we create the right conditions for growth and break down the barriers between business and government. That is why I have encouraged officials working on small business policy at my Department to participate in this initiative too. It is great to see that 95 per cent of the team have already spent valuable time understanding small firms.”

“All of my ‘work experience’ days have shown me the challenges faced by our small firms, and how the Government can help in creating the right environment for these businesses to flourish.

Mr Prisk is now looking at how he can encourage other Ministers and officials from across Whitehall to sign up to the programme, and spend between one and five days a year with SMEs or people trying to start up a business.

The ‘Week in Small Business’ initiative was introduced by BIS to gain an in-depth understanding of the specific needs of SMEs, which account for more than 99 per cent of private businesses. SME performance and activity is a key driver of the UK economy.

Martin Warner, CEO of Michelmersh Brick Holdings, said:
"We are delighted to have Mark Prisk spending his final day of work experience with us. It is great to see a Minister getting to know businesses like ours, and this will be an excellent opportunity to explain the workings of our long standing business and the challenges facing our industry. Michelmersh is an important local employer with a history of producing heritage products which enhance the built environment.”