The representation we undertake at a national level on your behalf is what many of you tell us is the key benefit of membership and we continue to make sure that your voice is heard with a wide range of players!  There was no let-up in January and our representational activities continued with a vengeance!  We recently collected information from you in regard to the key issues you’re facing in preparation for our meeting with Michael Fallon MP, unfortunately that meeting became a victim of the terrible weather – but a new date is being fixed and we’ll give you feedback as soon as we can.

We have met with  couple of MPs in January though – thanks to Graham Marley for the introductions to Stephen Lloyd MP and Amber Rudd MP; a great opportunity to outline the wider work of the Network and our members and picking up particularly on NEA and other initiatives to support the self-employed.

We have for quite some time been very consistent in our representational messages and will continue to be so:

•Face-to face advice has a place and it works!

•Our members are not all the same but all have a commitment to helping people start successful businesses.

•Our members have good coverage of England and the NEN has good links beyond, especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

•Times are tough: cuts at all levels (local, regional, national) will have an impact on capacity to deliver. If it gets too tough that may be irreversible in some places.

It’s important that we keep up with the issues our members and the sector generally are facing and so do please keep sharing things with us so that we can incorporate them into our representational meetings.

In the meantime, here is a snapshot of some of the representational sessions we’ve had recently:-

•British Chambers: ongoing discussions about close working and ensuring that where we have issues of common interest we collaborate accordingly.

•BIS: ongoing discussions about mentoring; business bank; Business In You; Employee Ownership of Skills Pilot; apprenticeships; start-up loans; RGF.

•CDFA: ongoing discussions to share common issues and identify opportunities for closer working, in particular around debt management pilot and start-up loans.

•DWP: ongoing discussions about member involvement in NEA and the potential for joint best practise session, also the opportunity to be involved in the dissemination of the NEA evaluation results.

•ERSA: ongoing communication about Work Programme

•FSB: ongoing discussions about closer working and ensuring that where we have issues of common interest we collaborate accordingly.

•HMRC: ongoing discussions about the impact of HMRC initiatives on small businesses and the self-employed, with an opportunity for members to get involved in their latest development of online tools.

•PRIME: ongoing discussions about collaboration and whether members can support their work in areas where they don’t have coverage.

•Start-up Loans: ongoing discussions to determine how more members might be able to get involved in the delivery of these loans and how their availability might be promoted to the clients of members.

We were fortunate to be involved in two BBC Radio Five Live programmes during January, again these provide an opportunity to contribute to a particular topic – but always with the aim of getting some promotion for our members and the very important and valuable work you do!

Keep the information coming and we’ll do with it what we can!

Here’s to February!