Business organisations form new coalition in ‘unprecedented’ move

Maurice Ostro
X The Business Desk

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The UK’s leading business organisations have come together in an “unprecedented” move to form an new coalition as part of an emergency response to the Covid-19.

The new group will be called the Business Action Council (BAC) – a coalition that it says will streamline the voices of more than 500,000 businesses in the UK.

The formation of the BAC marks the first occasion that business organisations have joined together at such a scale.

The BAC says its primary mission is to “act as an instrument that provides Government with a more coherent perspective from business2. 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”.

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 are currently six working groups, with 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 new coalition says 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. He 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.”

The full list of organisations in the coalition is:

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 McKenzie OBE, CEO
Can Do Scotland – Rachel Brown, chair
Centre for Entrepreneurs – Matt Smith, director
Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – Lord Karan Bilimoria, vice president
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