This week’s Cabinet reshuffle may not have led to many changes in the big roles, but Tuesday saw a range of changes to more junior ministerial roles. Of particular note to contractors is the promotion of Andrew Griffiths, previously an assistant Whip, to the role of Small Business Minister, replacing Margot James, who moves to a new role at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Griffiths reacted to the news on Twitter, saying that he was “Thrilled to be appointed Small Business Minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.” He described himself as “look[ing] forward to getting started on the business brief.”
The MP for Burton and Uttoxeter, who takes over the office from Margot James, has previously been involved in running his family’s engineering firm, as well as working in finance prior to moving into politics. The wide-ranging brief includes small business as part of a string of roles, the new number three at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will officially be the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State and Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility. Among his responsibilities in the small business role will be ministerial responsibility for the Office of the Small Business Commissioner, Paul Uppal who took office in December, as well as formulating the Governments reaction to last year’s Taylor Review, with its implications for contractors and other self-employed people.
IPSE, which represents thousands of contractors, freelancers and other self-employed workers welcomed the appointment and said that they look forward to working with Mr Griffiths on these issues. However Simon McVicker, IPSE’s Director of Policy, warned that there are other challenges ahead for the Minister to tackle: “Undoubtedly, the confidence of the self-employed has taken a dip in the last year, both because of the uncertainties around Brexit and some ill-advised policies from the Government – such as the attempted change to NICs and the introduction of stringent new rules around IR35 in the public sector. However, Mr Griffiths now has a great opportunity to rebuild trust between the self-employed and the Government. We therefore look forward to working with him to build confidence and create a supportive business environment for this vital sector of the labour force.”
With a long list of urgent issues on his desk, the Minister will need to work hard to win the support of the business community, and especially freelancers, contractors and self-employed people who contribute hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the British economy.