Join WiRE Now

Manifesto for Business 2015

At the General Election in 2010 WiRE issued a manifesto to help guide the parties in their understanding of what policies and plans would make a difference to women running small businesses. Some of the points have started to be addressed as outlined in the Report on Small Firms by the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Enterprise, Lord Young


  • Superfast Broadband, whilst not perfect is starting to roll out into more rural areas and there is a clearer timetable which helps businesses to plan.
  • Public procurement contracts are now more open to small businesses (although still rather complicated and time consuming).
  • Single source information and signposting for business support (plus a helpline which is a great bonus).
  • Recognition (in the Young report) of the huge contribution micro businesses make to the local and national economy.

The next administration can help support and grow rural and micro businesses by:

  • Introducing an effective Business Mentor Scheme for women in micro business administered by those who understand the sector. Ensuring that mentors have the skills to support women running micro businesses with their specific skills needs (our experience of mentoring is the more “like me” the mentor is, the greater chance of success).
  • Extension of the Small Business Charter support on offer via University Business Schools by creating a Rural Business School. To administer funded projects and deliver support specifically tailored for micro rural businesses and in sectors such as tourism, food, craft, creative etc and specifically for women. They are different in their needs to SME’s and should not be expected to engage with programmes which may not be appropriate.
  • Continued commitment to improving access to Superfast Broadband in rural areas, with clear timetables for delivery and fair prices for service packages (comparable to those in urban areas).
  • A creative approach to supporting those areas where Superfast is unlikely to be available. Including impartial information on available options (satellite, microwave, 4G) and creating drop in Superfast Working Hubs and shared spaces to access superfast broadband during working hours.
  • Further recognition of micro businesses by appointing a Micro Business Advocate to: champion micro business, calculate statistics on jobs created and supported, consult prior to compiling policies ensuring they are never detrimental, encourage new business activity and ensure their voice is heard.
  • Explore the possibility of an Apprenticeship Scheme for Micro Businesses; an accredited award which covers all aspects and practicalities of running a micro business. This would have the dual positive impact of helping micro businesses to employ people and encouraging young people to start a business and stay in the rural community.

WiRE – Manifesto for Rural Business 2010

All the political parties know they need to have “Pro Business” manifesto – rightly. But we must ensure it’s not only big business who are the beneficiaries: Download printable version

We must see:

  • High speed broadband as a way of levelling out the playing field for small rural businesses, and a flexible approach in those areas it will never be possible (satellite, shared spaces, collaborative projects).
  • Fairer distribution of public sector support, funding, training – it’s a lottery, sometimes shops get support, sometimes only start ups – all businesses need training and business advice to help them grow, it shouldn’t be dependant on where they are; we have a brilliant idea for a voucher system!
  • Reduction of red tape and more flexibility in planning, signage etc.- crucial for rural businesses success
  • Specific measure to support collaborative working to allow small businesses access to public procurement contracts
  • Funding support for rural businesses creating new jobs and encouraging young people to stay in the community.

We would like to see:

  • Specific support for rural micro businesses (5 employees and under) – they are different to other SME; not in the least that their transport costs and journey times are double – Recognition of the impact small rural businesses have on their community and economy and offer support accordingly
  • Understanding of the huge diversity of rural businesses – they are not just about agriculture, a rural business advocate (as well as the rural advocate) to champion and encourage business activity (local food, tourism, crafts etc).
  • Business support voucher system (again!) for women in business (they often dip in and out depending on other commitments) so sometimes fall outside the rules.

We asked WiRE Members on Twitter for ideas on a manifesto for rural business, what will help, what will hinder.

Alison Howell

  • Improve broadband coverage in rural areas, broadband speed, and mobile phone coverage, so it’s easier to do business.
  • Ask people with rural businesses for their opinions when compiling policies. Issues such as staffing and training staff can be more challenging in a rural area.
  • Simplify VAT and regulation for small rural business and ensure it’s kept to a minimum so rural business can focus on creating profit.
  • Paperwork and administration take considerable time, and keeping up with ever changing policies and regulations is very time consuming. For example, the TOMS tour operator margin scheme for VAT on tour operators is horrendous.
  • Introduce effective business mentor scheme for rural business, to inspire, motivate and guide rural business, which can often be isolated.
  • Ensure those involved in delivering training or services to rural business have some experience of running a business, so help can be better targeted.