Today at the Cabinet Office SME Panel meeting in Whitehall, I met Lord Agnew, the new Minister of State for the Cabinet Office. Let’s put to one side for a moment the obvious cynicism about how long Ministers stay in position: I think this is my 5th in three years.

Lord Agnew has run his own small business for 40 years, so he is well-versed in many of the problems facing SME’s. The discussion was one of the best I have had with a Minister. Some simply talk at you. Today it was a quick summary of his key priorities for 2020 (more later) and then a robust two-way discussion.

When he realised I represented a technology industry association, he asked me whether the Government was giving enough support to UK cloud companies? I told him that four or five years ago support for UK cloud companies was clear, but in recent times the pendulum seems to have swung in favour of US giants such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google. He doesn’t like generalised chats. He prefers detailed reports and case studies he can use. He therefore asked if Innopsis would brief him on the current state of play and concerns from UK cloud companies.

ACTION: if any member has a view or case study on this subject can they please send me something I could include in an Innopsis special report for Lord Agnew?

His key priority for 2020 was the introduction of a ‘tell us once’ system. We have complained for many years about the number of times we have to submit the same information to Government. Almost every PQQ response is 20% project specific and 80% generic company stuff we have submitted several times before. This system development has been funded as Project CONCLAVE. My best guess is that their will be white and green papers to pass the appropriate laws this year and then we will see a new system appearing in early 2021. It will probably be portrayed as something new we can do post-Brexit although the reality is that this rule was introduced by the EUabout 6 years ago and we never implemented it.

Who cares as long as it gets done?

Post expires at 11:05pm on Thursday March 11th, 2021