Major Coalition of UK Business Organisations Unites for First Time To Help Stabilise Economy

The UK’s leading entrepreneurship organisations have united in
an unprecedented manner as part of an emergency response to the COVID-19
pandemic to establish the Business Action Council (BAC) – a coalition that will
streamline the voices of more than 500,000 businesses across every sector and
region within the United Kingdom.

In the wake of the Prime Minister’s call to build the biggest possible consensus from
business in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the formation of the BAC marks
the first occasion that business organisations have joined together at such a scale in
the spirit of collective action.

The BAC’s primary mission is to act as an instrument that provides Government with
a more coherent perspective from business. It is developing well-evidenced policy
proposals that balance the competing demands of the wide range of businesses
represented and provide expert, holistic advice to protect business resilience and
restore confidence.

At a time of significant economic upheaval brought on by the spread of COVID-19,
the Council brings together leaders from the most significant institutions that
represent the UK’s business community to build consensus, allowing them to
respond quickly and collectively to Government. Its founding members include the
largest such organisations – the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Institute
of Directors (IoD), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and the British
Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
The BAC’s work is currently informed by six specialist working groups, which are
developing high-quality policy proposals and analysis to guide the Government’s
response to the pandemic, which are endorsed by the entire Council. Policy
proposals in five of the following areas have already been submitted to Government.
The below lists all six working groups and more are being added:

  • Future of Finance: Providing assessment of the immediate impact on
    entrepreneurial businesses of COVID-19, and available remedies;
    assessment of the role finance will play in a post-COVID-19 ecosystem for
    such businesses; and strategic solutions in support of our entrepreneurs and
    their businesses in the medium to longer term.
  • Employee Retention: Fine-tuning the government’s furlough scheme with the
    aim of protecting employment and enabling employees to return to work
    safely.
  • Peer support: Providing solutions for how entrepreneurs pool experience to
    support one another through the COVID crisis and beyond.
  • SME Tax: Creating a tax framework that puts SMEs at the heart of the
    recovery.
  • Supporting High Growth Start Ups: Applying international best practice in
    supporting the early stages businesses that will play a leading role in the
    recovery to the UK context.
  • Real Estate Reform: Protecting landlords, tenants and construction firms
    throughout business disruption and help them safely exit the lockdown.

The lifespan of the BAC and its working groups will be determined by the progress
made on addressing the policy requirements. The BAC is chaired by Maurice Ostro
OBE.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The members of the BAC and its representatives include:

  • B-Lab UK– Chris Turner, Executive Director
  • British Chambers of Commerce – Baroness Ruby Mcgregor-Smith, President
  • Business in the Community (BITC)– Amanda Mackenzie OBE, CEO
  • Can Do Scotland – Rachel Brown, Chair
  • Centre for Entrepreneurs – Matt Smith, Director
  • Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – Lord Karan Bilimoria, Vice President
  • Creative England & Creative Industries Federation – Caroline Norburry MBE, CEO
  • E2Exchange – Shalini Khemka, Founder
  • Entrepreneurial Giving – Shaughan Dolan, Campaign Director
  • Enterprise Trust – Elizabeth Slee, Director
  • Entrepreneurial Scotland – Sandy Kennedy, CEO
  • Entrepreneurs Network – Sam Dumituru, Director of Research
  • Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)– James Burchell, Strategy Lead
  • Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)– Craig Beaumont, Director, External Affairs and Advocacy
  • Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE)– Andrew Chamberlain, Director of Policy
  • Innovate Finance– Charlotte Crosswell, CEO
  • Institute of Directors (IoD)– Tej Parikh, Chief Economist
  • Make UK– Andrew Tuscher, Head of External Affairs
  • ScaleUp Institute– Irene Graham OBE, CEO
  • Tech Nation– Liz Stevenson, Director
  • The Entrepreneurs Network– Philip Salter, Director
  • The industrial Strategy Council – Andy Haldane, Chair
  • United Nations Global Compact– Stephen Kenzie, UK CEO
  • YPO UK Leadership Council – Maurice Ostro OBE, Chair

Supporting comments from BAC members:

Maurice Ostro OBE, Chair of the BAC and Chair of the YPO UK Leadership Council, said“A national crisis requires a national & collaborative response. It is inspiring to see our business community rally together, creating an action focused group to support the Prime Minister’s call for consensus.”

Lord Bilimoria, Vice President of the CBI, said: “It is a historic moment to see organisations that sometimes see each other as competitors put aside differences and unite in the national interest. There are no simple answers to the myriad problems that the pandemic has created: entrepreneurship organisations will need to work together over the coming months to develop the bold and imaginative solutions necessary to help us recover as quickly as possible.

Martin McTague, Policy Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Our immediate concern is making sure businesses can survive the initial shock caused by coronavirus, but our aims must be no less than creating the conditions for a sustainable recovery led by entrepreneurs.  Building a prosperous future for the UK is the challenge for the Business Action Council and we are pleased to play our part.”

Tej Parikh, Chief Economist, Institute of Directors, said: “Supporting enterprise will be crucial in the months and years ahead, as we respond to the pandemic and seek to amplify our recovery from it. This mission is written into the IoD’s Royal Charter, and we are pleased to work constructively with other groups to serve this purpose.”

Baroness Ruby Mcgregor-Smith, President of British Chambers of Commerce, said“We will meet this unprecedented challenge with a collaborative effort to ensure the survival and future prosperity of business communities across the UK. As the government prepares to gradually reopen the economy, this coordinated approach will help restore, strengthen and rebuild our economy. Chambers of Commerce stand ready to work constructively towards this goal, bringing real-world experiences from businesses on the ground.”

Charlotte Crosswell, CEO of Innovate Finance, said: “Finance has a crucial role to play in re-energising the economy. In these volatile times, it is crucial that we identify innovative ways of providing the capital that stimulates growth and enables businesses to get back on track as we emerge from the crisis.”

Irene Graham OBE, CEO of ScaleUp Institute, said: “For a secure and sustainable national recovery to take effect innovative solutions will be needed to enable local economies, across the UK, to thrive and for businesses from all sectors and diverse backgrounds to scale up and grow. The ScaleUp Institute is pleased to play our part in the Business Action Council.  Collaboration at all levels, and across all parts of the UK’s entrepreneurial community, has never been more important.”

Andy Haldane, Chair of the Industrial Strategy Council, said: “Rebuilding business after the crisis will be crucial for rebuilding our economy in the period ahead. I am impressed and heartened by the speed and co-operative spirit that has enabled the Business Action Council to come together and conceive of a blueprint for policy action to help achieve that. This is a time when the collaborative efforts of business, government and civil society will be essential in enabling the UK economy to bounce back with a bang.”

Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of Make UK, said: “We are delighted to work with our partners right across the business world to come together for the common good. The current crisis has created conditions that none of us could have foreseen in our lifetimes and the solutions we are going to need to survive and prosper are probably ones we would never have previously considered. Necessity is often the mother of invention and by coming together to share ideas will be the best way forward for businesses and entrepreneurs to help recover.”

Shalini Khemka, CEO of E2E, said: “E2E are pleased to be working actively with The Business Action Council to collectively provide a crucial link between SMEs and our government during this time of crisis and unity. We are determined to ensure our economy can emerge with a foundation that allows it to be vibrant and innovative, so supporting our national recovery.  My sub-committee members and I welcome the opportunity to have constructive conversations with the Prime Minister’s team on the employee retention support packages. Small and medium sized businesses are vital for the success of our economy whether as employers, through the provision of goods and services or being the major enterprises of the future.”

Sandy Kennedy, CEO of Entrepreneurial Scotland, said: “As we emerge from the immediate crisis, it is entrepreneurs of all kinds who will shape the future.  From our start-ups to scaleups, from our family businesses to social enterprises across all sectors and geographies of the economy, they will create vital jobs, solutions to challenges and taxes to reinvest. It is critical that we all gather around them and support them in every way we can.  Entrepreneurs will be the healthcare workers of the economic recovery.”

Philip Salter, Founder of The Entrepreneurs Network, said: “The EOC is helping entrepreneurial organisations coordinate and present a clearer picture to Government of what entrepreneurs need at this challenging time. This coordination will remain vital when it’s time for innovative policies to support the post-lockdown recovery.”

Helen Booth, CEO of enterprise think tank The Enterprise Trust, said: “What we must focus on now is how we can create the conditions for UK firms to safely get back to business. It’s an enormous challenge that requires collaboration and we will achieve a greater outcome by all pulling together.”

Amanda Mackenzie OBE, CEO of Business in the Community, said: “As we move towards life after the pandemic, we know that we will have to adjust to a ‘new normal’, but we must make sure it’s a ‘better normal’.  Businesses must join forces and lead the way in rebuilding the UK by bringing innovative solutions to problems we have never faced before.”

James Burchell, Entrepreneurs Organisation and Real Estate and Construction Chair, said“Working with a variety of groups with different interests in a sector which has a fundamental impact on the economy has brought fresh thinking and ideas as we deal with the structural implication of the pandemic. Together this has led to a greater understanding of the core challenges property owners, occupiers and contractors are all facing,  and how to start to plan for the immediate and medium term future, in a world where different parts of the economy will open up in different ways in different times.”

Matt Smith, director of policy & research, Centre for Entrepreneurs, said: “Entrepreneurs are at the heart of our economy. Now more than ever, we need their innovation and drive to create jobs and growth. The Centre for Entrepreneurs is delighted to deepen its collaboration with other entrepreneurship bodies through this group. Together, we can ensure entrepreneurs have the best possible support to help drive the recovery.”

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), said: “In such dark times of crisis for entrepreneurs, freelancers and the economy more generally, it is excellent to see business groups coming together. Entrepreneurs and the self-employed are the engine of the economy and exactly the people we will look toget it back on its feet in the coming months and years. We believe the analysis, ideas and policy recommendations of the Entrepreneurship Organisations Council deserve careful consideration by the government.”

Caroline Norbury MBE, Chief Executive, Creative England and Creative Industries Federation, said:

“In times of crisis, as we deal with the unknown, creativity and imagination are the essential tools that help us dream the landscapes of tomorrow. At the Creative Industries Federation, we believe that creativity not only builds great businesses, but it also brings communities together and enables individuals to lead happier, healthier, more sociable lives.  The UK’s entrepreneurs will be pivotal to our country’s recovery which is why we are pleased to support this important initiative and ensure the creative industry sector contributes to the Business Action Council.”

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