Lord Young appointed enterprise tsar - and sticks up for small businesses against Sir Philip Green

David Cameron has brought in Lord Young to deal specifically with the red tape burden small businesses face, and to streamline and simplify the public procurement process for small and medium-sized firms.

Cameron wrote in a letter to Lord Young: "Government is institutionally biased against small businesses and enterprise. Governments have been cavalier in introducing regulations and requirements, wrongly assuming small business owners can just take them in their stride, when in fact it can make their lives impossible. This government must and will be different."

The prime minister has asked the new enterprise tsar to write a 'brutally honest report' on the procurement process. Cameron wrote: "I am particularly concerned about the shocking way in which small and medium sized firms are locked out of procurement opportunities by central and local government, and the rest of the public sector - for example, the NHS. I would like you to establish, within a month, an online forum on the No 10 website where small and medium businesses can tell their public sector procurement horror stories."

Lord Young will focus his efforts on four key areas: reducing red tape; improving access to public contracts for small and medium-sized businesses; improving communication between government and small and medium-sized firms; and encouraging start-ups by making careers advice and training more balanced in its approach to self-employed people, rather than it favouring job seekers, as it currently does in the government's eyes.

Lord Young said: "I'll be focusing on what barriers government policy have been put in the way of small business development and helping to advise on what can be done to make life easier for businesses to start and grow."

And he's already flexed his influence against another government advisor, the billionaire retailer Sir Philip Green. Green, a government business adviser, questioned the need for the government's target of paying small business suppliers within five days. Lord Young said scrapping the impressive payment terms would threaten the livelihood of small firms.

"We are not a business, we are running a country and it is in the government's interests to see prosperous small businesses," Lord Young told Radio 4's Today programme this morning. "[Small businesses] are 60% of the employment in the private sector, half the GDP.

"Yes, the government could use its power and could squeeze small businesses and get some cash in - and we would end up with no businesses. That's not what government's about."

Hear, hear.

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