By Max Clarke

Numbering some 4.8 million, SMEs account for 59% of total private sector employment (some 23 million people) generating an annual turnover of £3,200 Billion- around 50% of the UK’s total.

Recognising this pivotal role that SMEs play in the UK economy, in innovation, and in employment; the coalition government has, since its election, enacted a range of policies aimed at providing the right environment for SMEs to flourish in order to catalyse UK economic recovery.

Lee Hackett, principal partner at SME performance specialists Pantheon International, has made the following comments for Fresh Business Thinking about the effectiveness of such policies:

“Even the Prime Minister said it would be a "big mistake" to neglect small high-growth businesses that are crucial for growth in all the Government’s recent “tough” measures. Providing budding entrepreneurs with access to a new enterprise allowance is a great start, as availability of finance can be a real obstacle when starting up a business.

“However, where is the regional support going to come from to enable these start-up businesses to transform into small high-growth companies that everyone is talking about? It certainly isn’t from the public sector with the announcement last week that regional Business Link advice services will close by the end of year. The announcement comes as no surprise but a national website and call centre is not the answer no matter how much it is improved.

“What small businesses need is a proactive and dynamic drive to stimulate innovation and new market diversification both nationally and internationally. There is a real opportunity for the private sector to make its mark on SME business support by actually delivering a locally relevant, practical and cost effective service that provides the development of skills necessary for rapid business growth. And it needs to happen quickly if business growth is to play its part in turning the economy around.”