The same thing is happening in politics. Politicians - and their Civil Servants - want to talk direct to business. They do not trust the myriad of Trade Associations and pressure groups who are often no more than affinity deals wrapped up as a "representative body".
The Small Business Service is a Government agency tasked with improving the lot of small business and are in the process of developing a database of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) that will be used to carry out small firms impact (litmus) tests and focus groups to assess the impact of regulations upon small businesses. This is a response to a recommendation made by the Small Business Council, chaired by William Sargent.
According to the Small Business Service
"The purpose of the Litmus test is to ensure that Government Departments engage with small business and consider their point of view as policy ideas are being debated at the earliest stage of development, and to ensure that the implementation of policy by regulation is as small business friendly as possible. This should ensure that the impact of regulation, including its cumulative effect, is properly considered before formal consultation takes place on proposed regulation.
A definition of an SME can be considered as a micro business to a medium size business employing between 1 - 250 employees. The SBS definition is based on the number of employees of a business not turnover. Companies that are subsidiaries of foreign companies that are free standing and registered separately in Britain with Companies House are also eligible to participate in this exercise."
I have discussed with the Small Business Service that members of the Shout99 network would be useful people to talk with on any future consultation and they have extended the deadline for application until 31st January 2003.
The SBS (in the covering letter) state:
"Contact with SBS could range from a quick telephone call to participating in a focus group for a few hours, and you choose how you prefer to be involved. You would not be expected to participate in more than two events a year, but if you would be prepared to do so, please can you indicate this on your form."
As well as ensuring you keep your ear to the ground on legislative events that may influence your business decisions and have your say on issues which affect you, it might also be useful from a networking point of view, so I would encourage you to take the time to download the attached information to register your interest. (Before 31st Jan 2003)
I would be grateful if you could email me your Shout99 username if you decide to apply and I will create a seperate area of the Shout99 website to which you will have access, so we can check how this process works.
email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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