MPs to Experience What it is Like to Run a Small Business
Under a new scheme that teaches volunteers “the realities of running a small business”, MPs are to be assigned internships in the nation’s small firms this summer.
Set up by the Forum of Private Business (FPB), the Business Buddy Scheme has invited every English and Scottish MP and Welsh Assembly Member to spend half a day “mucking in” at a firm in their constituency. Taking place over the summer, while Parliament is in recess, over 100 MPs to date will spend time with a local firm.
FPB press officer Phil McCabe said:
“Our recent survey showed 74 per cent of our small-business members want their elected representatives to focus on small businesses in their constituency. That’s what our new scheme aims to achieve.”
“There’s no substitute for first-hand experience. We want politicians to see for themselves what it’s like to run a small business.”
He added that the scheme would “bring it home to decision-makers just how much small firms contribute to the economy.”
The FPB hopes to match the MP’s responsibilities with a suitable business — for instance, tourism minister Mark Penrose has been matched with a tourism firm in Weston-super-Mare. Even cabinet members have expressed enthusiasm: Minister of State Oliver Letwin will spend a short time working in a pie shop in his West Dorset constituency in September.
“Currently, nine ministers and nine shadow ministers will take part and spend half a day with a small firm. After the scheme ends, we hope to set up a hotline for firms to communicate any emerging issues and problems.”
Business Minister Mark Prisk urged fellow MPs and ministers to join. He said:
“My contact with small businesses tells me that you will not only benefit from gaining a real understanding of the challenges business owners face and overcome each and every day, but that you will find the experience to be hugely enjoyable.”
Claire Curzon, managing director at Derbyshire sales consultancy Brighter Directions, welcomed the idea of an intern MP. She said:
“I would [take on an MP], just so they can see first hand how hard running a successful small business is with all the red tape.”