Several disturbing claims from the ex-Prime Minister

Yesterday David Cameron published a response to the claims and criticisms that have been made towards him and to a lesser extent towards the Government for the way he has used his relationships with the current Government Ministers to try to change decisions over the Greensill company. My reading of his statement raised several issues in my own thinking that seemed concerning. Back on 24th March I wrote this piece about Greensill with this image which emerged a few hours earlier from the Telegraph. The fact that the MPs from his party had blocked a call for an inquiry was deeply concerning and it now appears that the Government has reversed that blockage which is clearly very important. As a result of that Cameron has published his statement which I obtained from this online piece under the heading of David Cameron’s statement on Lex Greensill lobbying in full – The former Prime Minister has spoken for the first time amid heavy criticism. So at the beginning of his statement David Cameron stated:

Having said this, many of the allegations that have been made about these issues are not correct. Lex Greensill was brought in to work with the Government by the former Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, in 2011. He was not a political appointee, but part of the Civil Service drive to improve government efficiency. In bringing him in, Jeremy was acting in good faith to solve a real problem – how to ensure companies in supply chains, particularly SMEs, could access low cost credit.

So this challenge is based on the reality that far too little connections are being made towards the SME sector when it comes to claims from the Government that they will extend their procurement processes towards the SME sector. I work within the Small and Micro enterprise end of the SME sector and our challenge is being able to obtain contracts in a meaningful way from the Government. However we are certainly not being prevented due to a lack of credit and indeed the Government has made a very clear commitment to paying invoices within 30 days. If there are are reasons why some of the contracts do not get paid that quickly (which is faster than many other settings) then of course the SMEs can either refuse to accept the contracts or get credit and then pass on the costs. The final disturbing issues are that Greensill has not done any obvious SME provision and Jeremy who tragically died when he was 56 cannot be questioned about this. However his actions were accountable to the Prime Ministers he worked for including David Cameron who appears to be distracting the reason away from himself. He then goes on to state

The Government supported his initiative to encourage large companies to use supply chain finance (SCF) to enable their suppliers to access low cost credit. I announced this initiative as Prime Minister in October 2012. I made it clear that the Government would play its part through the community pharmacy scheme, ensuring that thousands of pharmacies could get early payment to improve their access to credit and cash flow. This scheme has successfully reduced costs to the NHS and enabled many thousands of pharmacies to access early payments and low cost credit.

So this seems rather concerning. If he means the NHS or indeed any private businesses are using the SCF to give their suppliers low cost credit that makes no sense. It is very simple that the NHS does pay its suppliers reasonably quickly. Now to be fair they rarely achieve payment within 30 days and it is often several months, but that is something that most Small and even Micro Businesses get used to and either ignore the NHS or work hard to avoid conflict. However what was needed was for the NHS to improve its payment processes which is something could be achieved if the Government focused on that rather than claiming they were setting up low cost credit which is not needed by companies if the payment is made in 30 days as the Government has been claiming is the priority for many years. The real risk here is that a person running a credit scheme will be arguing for longer than 30 days so that their credit scheme gets more access to businesses. This is deeply concerning.

Moving on to a different theme

My remuneration was partly in the form of a grant of shares. Their value was nowhere near the amount speculated in the press.

So the only way to resolve this is to admit what the other part of the remuneration was and also what level of shares he was given. He states elsewhere that he worked for the company 25 days a year and so one would wonder how that all works out.

Another section is

While I understand the concern about the ability of former ministers – and especially Prime Ministers – to access government decision makers and the sense, and reality, of ease of access and familiarity, I thought it was right for me to make representations on behalf of a company involved in financing a large number of UK firms. This was at a time of crisis for the UK economy, where everyone was looking for efficient ways to get money to businesses. It was also appropriate for the Treasury to consider these representations. Concern has been raised about the nature of my contact, via text message and e-mail. I understand that concern, but context is important: at that time the Government was – quite rightly – making rapid decisions about the best way to support the real economy and welcomed real time information and dialogue.

This is just so disturbing – I am aware of many people who with very different roles in trying to support businesses like their own were trying and in many cases are still trying to contact and be listened to by the Government. If David Cameron is not aware of this it perhaps explains why he is not really well connected to the business sector. It also demonstrates that he is not at all aware of how little the Government welcomes information and dialogue from people who are not part of their political world.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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