Two “entrepreneurs in residence” have taken up roles as government advisers and identified small companies’ struggle to access bank finance as their top priority.

Lawrence Tomlinson and Rekha Mehr will work one day a week at the Business Department, with Vince Cable describing the appointments as “important voices for business”.

The Business Secretary said they would help the Government “address the needs of small and medium-sized businesses”. Mr Tomlinson runs the Leeds-based LNT Group, which has a £100m turnover with interests in construction, software, chemicals, car manufacturing, and care homes.

“I can be a direct line for small companies to go through to let government know what’s really happening in the economy – and that’s businesses being starved of credit,” he said.

“The [Business Department] is working hard to improve the outlook but until the nationalised banks start lending properly it’s going to be difficult to get the economy growing again.

“There are opportunities to make them lend rather than simply asking – it’s the biggest topic of concern for businesses. Something has to be done and I’m going to voice those concerns.”

He added: “The reason banks aren’t lending is that they are controlled by central credit committees and not by local people who know and understand local businesses. That needs to change.”

Mr Cable acknowledged that Mr Tomlinson, who bought a single care home from his parents in 1988 and eventually sold the business for £180m, has a “trenchant view on banks”.

Ms Mehr, a former Waitrose and Amazon buyer, who runs Pistachio Rose, a London-based business that sells Anglo-Indian cakes and sweets, said she will be the “voice for start-ups and small firms”.

She also said she hoped to put pressure on the Government to improve access to finance. “It’s easy to forget the early days and frustrations of starting your own business and I welcome the opportunity to share my experiences to help Government improve their understanding.”

Ms Mehr and Mr Tomlinson, who were selected from more than 200 applicants for the roles, will each be paid £10,000 a year.

James Hurley, Telegraph Business Club Editor

By James Hurley

  • cable rekha mehr tomlinson