As the White House attempts to sell President Joe Biden 's multitrillion-dollar rescue and recovery plans across the country, Vice President Kamala Harris is taking on a leading role as an ambassador to small businesses, particularly in underrepresented communities. On Wednesday, she plans to meet with female-led small businesses in Rhode Island and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to discuss what Harris has called the "national emergency" of women leaving the labor force. Harris has held events with the Black Chamber of Commerce and spoken directly with community lenders who work with Native American tribes. Behind the scenes, Harris has pushed the country's biggest banks to get federal relief to the smallest players. Harris called JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan in February, urging them to ramp up Paycheck Protection Program loans and outreach to minority and low-income communities, according to a senior administration official who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the call.
Keir Starmer's bounce-back plan? Send for Lord Mandelson
In return for a fee, the state will, in effect, insure banks against companies defaulting on loan repayments. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said the proposals would target "genuine business needs". Speaking at prime minister's questions, Gordon Brown described the measures as "real help now to deal with specific problems". Alan Duncan, shadow secretary of state for business, responded by dismissing the measures as: "Too little, too late, too complicated He said that some of the capital made available as a result of the guarantee had to be used for new lending. Bank lending would be targeted at "innovative, viable and growing [companies] that are finding it difficult to access working capital", he added. The government is also setting up an Enterprise Guarantee Scheme as part of the support package.
Lord Mandelson delayed the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail yesterday until after the next election in a move that will delight backbench Labour MPs, of whom threatened a Commons revolt over the issue. Opposition MPs led by Ken Clarke, the shadow business secretary, have attacked Mandelson for caving into pressure from his backbenchers. Confirmation of a delay has widely been expected and interpreted as a sop by Gordon Brown to left-wing Labour MPs as the beleaguered prime minister seeks to reimpose his authority on the party.
Gordon Brown has revamped operations at the heart of Downing Street, moving cabinet ministers and civil servants into one "war room", as part of a government effort to manage the economic downturn. On the first full day of operations in the new open-plan office, the government yesterday announced new measures to help small businesses, which employ 15 million people in the UK, with cash flow and productivity. Appearing before the business select committee for the first time yesterday, the new business secretary, Peter Mandelson , announced that in addition to the pledge in the immediate aftermath of the economic crash that central government would pay small business contractors within 10 days, the government had secured a similar agreement from the Regional Development Agencies RDAs for prompt payment. Mandelson told the select committee that local government and hospitals would also be urged to do the same. In recent days the battle between the political parties has centred on efforts to protect small businesses.