engage magazine issue 004 \'07 - Page 53

NATIONAL BUSINESS FOCUS 53 British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is a non-profit, non-political organisation with 60 chambers around the UK. The main aim of the BCC is to assist UK businesses to thrive. I met with the Managing Director John Dunsmure to find out what mechanisms are in place to help businesses, and whether there were any particular issues facing Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) enterprises. The and that brings about other business opportunity. ” The BCC claim to be the ‘true British voice of business’, how accurate is this in relation to business diversity? “I think it is very accurate. We represent businesses all over the UK therefore, we represent communities all over the UK. Chambers is for everybody. It’s not an ‘old boys network’. If you go to Bradford, you’ll find a mainly Asian community and they are the local businessbecause they are there.” If minority-owned businesses have any issues, their concerns can be addressed and amplified through their local chamber network.” The BCC works very closely with the Government, in fact, during this year’s Budget, Gordon Brown referred to the Chambers’ work on ‘tax simplification’. John elaborated on the kind of work the BCC does in relation to shaping government policies. “We lobby and represent issues on behalf of businesses. We light of the recent Budget, I asked whether SME’s would be adversely affected. “Corporation tax. The vast majority of businesses in the UK are SME’s so they are driving the economy in lots of ways. The more tax burden they have the worse it will be. The Government tells us that direct taxation will reduce but indirect taxation will increase, though you’re not supposed to notice it. We issue a ‘burdens barometer’ which shows how everybody is paying more British Chambers of Commerce – Nikki Costa interviews Managing Director, John Dunsmure The British Chambers of Commerce provide ‘information, advice and support’ for British business. In which areas of business was this was available? “We cover a whole gambit for SME’s. We’re one of the largest training providers as a collective in the UK, local businesses are able to engage locally via their local chambers, we lobby transport issues, advise on accountancy, tax, landlord issues and generally assist with legal issues. There is also a ‘legal expenses insurance’ and a 24-hour help line. We provide networking opportunities - lots of businesses want to network I asked John what he perceived to be the key issues affecting business diversity and how these issues could be addressed? “I definitely feel there’s a need to create more support in relation to networking. At the same time, we have to be careful not to offend minority-owned businesses by putting them in the spotlight. We aim to assist from a representational point. For example, we’ve been approached by South African businesses, which have become polarized and want to break out into the wider business arena and we’re happy to try and help them as it affects all business. canvas and carry out regular surveys via national, regional and local business opinion. The Chambers work closely with the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) who are looking at a simplification process and we’ve been instrumental in that. There are about 3,000 different schemes, which the government provides through the DTI to help business, many businesses do not know about them and those that do, are totally confused. We attend meetings and try to be constructive by pointing out what changes can be made.” There are almost five million businesses in the UK, and in now than ever.” The British Chambers of Commerce clearly provide very useful information and practical assistance yet, so few businesses are aware of the services Chambers possess. Why is this? “We need to be more business friendly and that’s what we’re looking at. We need to make it clear that it’s not just the registered businesses we assist, it’s also the wider business community.” For more information on the British Chambers of Commerce please visit www. chamberonline.co.uk ISSUE FOUR 2007 engage | uk