Measures to strengthen supply chains and reduce the burden of regulation were announced by the Business Secretary Vince Cable today.

Speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses conference Dr Cable set out the practical steps Government is taking to help SMEs and boost business investment and cut red tape, including:

  • The £125 million Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative, which will open for applications from 29 March; and
  • A new ‘Focus on Enforcement’ campaign to identify where inappropriate or excessive enforcement of regulation is holding companies back.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“This Government has an absolute commitment to clearing away the barriers that act as a brake on growth for British SMEs. That is why, for example, we are not just reviewing whether there is still a case for each regulation, but now we are going to tackle how regulations are actually enforced as well. That commitment to lighten the load lies at the heart of our strategy for achieving economic transformation and recovery.

“In addition the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative will help build manufacturing capacity and ensure that more of the necessary components can be sourced in this country. We will support projects that deliver economic growth, greater competitiveness and safeguard or generate jobs.

“We will also increase the supply of capital through non-bank lending channels via our £100m SME focused Business Finance Partnership,  targeting finance channels other than loan funds.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative has been set up to help the existing supply chain grow, achieve world class standards and encourage major new suppliers to come and manufacture in the UK.

This initiative, to be run by Birmingham City Council, will provide grants and loans to successful projects demonstrating real ambition to create globally competitive supply chains.

The funding can support a combination of investment in capital equipment, associated R&D, and training and skills in recognition of the flexibility needed to overcome the barriers that suppliers and supply chains can face.

Vince Cable today also launched the Focus on Enforcement campaign –  asking business to tell us where enforcement can be improved, reduced or done differently and to discover and celebrate where it works well, so others can learn from it. Government will pick up the best ideas for change submitted and look swiftly at how we can improve the experience of regulatory enforcement in those business areas.

Urging businesses to put forward their ideas for change and improvement to the Focus on Enforcement website, Dr Cable added:

“The Government knows that ill thought-out regulations cost businesses time and money – which is why it devised the Red Tape Challenge. But sometimes the regulations are fine, it is inconsistent, inappropriate or overlapping enforcement that is the problem.

“Focus on Enforcement gives all businesses, but especially smaller and medium sized firms that often feel the disproportionate weight of inspection and compliance, the chance to make a real difference to the way regulators visit, inspect and advise business and enforce the law.’

Notes to editors:

  1. For more information on the criteria of the Advance Manufacturing Supply Chain initiative, timescales, eligibility and how to bid, please visit There will be a national briefing event for potential applicants.The £125 million national initiative is being funded by the Regional Growth Fund and Department for Business Innovation and Skills. It is based on an existing bid to the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) led by a group of local enterprise partnerships (Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire, Black Country and Liverpool City Region) and Birmingham City Council which focussed on the automotive and aerospace sectors and on a specific regional area.
  2. The initiative is now expanded to the whole of England and across advanced manufacturing sectors. Birmingham City Council will administer the expanded fund and will ensure national criteria and governance arrangements are put in place, including an independent Investment Board to take final decisions on which applications should receive funding from the initiative.
  3. The scheme is open to all advanced manufacturing sectors except where barriers to entry are low. The Technology Strategy Board will support Birmingham City Council running the competition process.
  4. The Focus on Enforcement website is live and can be found at The site gives business the opportunity to suggest areas for review of compliance and enforcement arrangements, and to provide evidence for the first three reviews.   The first three reviews were announced at Budget and will cover chemicals, small businesses in food manufacturing and volunteer events. These reviews will begin work in April and further details will be made available soon.
  5. For the first time, details on national regulators, their remits and regulatory budgets and staff resource are published in one place on the website and information is also provided on regulatory functions undertaken by local authorities.   (A large number of organisations play a part in securing compliance with the law. They include national regulators, local authorities, and bodies independent of Government, some of which have statutory regulatory functions. The list on the website is not exhaustive and details will continue to be added and updated).
  6. The £100m investment in SMEs through non-bank lending channels from the Business Finance Partnership (BFP) was announced in the Budget. Its key aims are to stimulate the development of a deeper and more diversified non-bank lending market for those businesses in the UK with a turnover of less than £500m.
  7. This year the Government is running the Business in You campaign to encourage more people to start or grow their business throughout 2012 using a range of existing support services, including the SME Business Finance Partnership scheme. More information is available at
  8. BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See


By BIS – Department for Business Innovation & Skills