And did anything come of Lady Mone’s Cameron report?
As I See It: Terry Murden
The Scottish government’s new package of Covid support has got off to a faltering start after Scottish Enterprise and its partners were swamped with applications and forced to suspend applications for one of the three new funds.
Officially, the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, “for vulnerable SME firms who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland”, will “pause” to allow partners to review initial completed applications.
However, this pause will take effect from 5pm Tuesday – although a correspondent to this website said it was inaccessible on Monday – and will be down for a whole week.
If a week is a long time in politics it could be a matter of life and death to small firms, thousands of whom warned just days ago that they were days from going bust. A week might be just too long to wait.
The government website says this grant is for businesses that can play a critical role in supporting Scotland’s recovery but have an “immediate cash flow challenge” and need some “immediate support”.
Immediate means now.
The last thing applicants need to hear, therefore, is that they’ll need to wait until next week before the process is back in action.
Lady Mone’s been back in the news. Her wedding was off because of the virus, so she’s been contemplating other things, including some TV options, one of which is joining the panel of the Dragons’ Den series.
The Glasgow Baroness did well out of her lingerie business and her speaking engagements, though some doubt she is worth a reputed £50 million. If she has anywhere near that sort of money – and her intended isn’t short of a bob or two – then she’s clearly got a big enough bank account to invest in some exciting young ventures.
And that got me wondering about how many businesses she’s backed over the years and how they’re getting on.
I’d especially like to hear from any of the companies that were created in Britain’s under-privileged neighbourhoods which was the purpose of a six-month tour of Britain she conducted for former PM David Cameron.
He made her a life peer in 2015 and asked her to help look at ways to stimulate entrepreneurialism in deprived areas. As we all know, Mr Cameron left office after the EU referendum the following year, just three months after her report was published. So he never got the chance to act upon it.
What did happen to the report? Well, it was reasonably well-received by a few high profile Tories, such as Iain Duncan-Smith and Sajid Javid, who was late to become a short-serving Chancellor. There were also positive comments from the likes of the Princes Trust, the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs, the Head of Commercial Banking Europe at HSBC, and the Institute of Directors.
But what happened next is a bit of a mystery. Despite Lady Mone’s love of publicity, I don’t recall any articles or images of her with any aspiring entrepreneurs from these deprived areas or how much of her £50 million the would-be dragon invested in their ventures.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are some. If you’re out there, please get in touch.