PRWeek TV: Government's 'buddy scheme' could 'stifle innovation'

The Government extension to its 'buddy scheme' giving large companies a hotline to ministers could stifle innovation and create a two-tier level of business engagement, it has been warned.

The Guardian recently revealed that the scheme to give closer access to departments and their ministers was set to be extended this year.

And in this week’s PRWeek TV, inHouse Communications senior consultant Stephanie Reeves and Westminster Advisers MD Dominic Church pointed to the possible dangers.

Led by UK Trade and Investment, the scheme includes big names like Shell, with a reported two-thirds of firms being based overseas.

Reeves said the programme, which is set to grow from 50 to around 80 companies by the end of 2013, was positive in suggesting the Government was looking ‘to have more conversations with business’.

However, she warned that smaller companies could have their ‘opportunities limited’ to discuss issues with departments, adding that this might have already started to happen.

Church said that there was a ‘big risk’ of fewer voices gaining access, echoing comments made by Greenpeace that the system ran the risk of being 'skewed towards narrow corporate interests'.

‘It’s precluding any competition in the way that organisations prepare their voice in Government,’ he said, adding: ‘It could stifle innovation and the Government being able to adopt new ideas.’

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