A Voice of Influence

Policy expert Matthew Jaffa is not only a familiar face for TV viewers in London, but also knows his way around the corridors of power.

Since graduating in Economics from Birmingham University in 2002, Matthew (1992–1999) has developed a career as an external communications professional with a solid understanding of the workings of Westminster and Whitehall.

He worked for nearly four years in the Cabinet Office, before joining the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in 2006 – an organisation devoted to helping smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. He is now the London Senior Development Manager for the FSB.

His skills include developing and implementing communication and public affairs strategies. He advises senior executives, has appeared at Select Committees and is the federation’s chief spokesperson on TV and radio, promoting the interests of its 7,000 members in the Greater London region.

His publications include Passing the baton – a report looking at how small businesses had been affected by the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in and around the capital.

In 2013, his team achieved extensive media coverage with the launch of Parking Crowdmap, a social media platform designed to enable small businesses to let their borough councils know directly how helpful, or unhelpful, their parking policies are.

Matthew returned to QE to speak at the School’s thriving Politics Society in autumn 2016 and is pictured here with Liam Hargadon, Head of Politics. He discussed the controversial world of lobbying, outlining his organisation’s recent successful campaign over the revaluation of business rates. The FSB believed the rates were far too high for small and medium-sized businesses, and were consequently making them less competitive than larger businesses. However, under the revaluation announced in September 2016 following the FSB campaign, smaller firms will now pay no business rates whatsoever, and a new category has been introduced for medium-sized companies in order to differentiate between them and larger firms.

Matthew, whose visit was arranged and hosted by Year 12 pupil Rehaan Bapoo, discussed the need for greater transparency among those attempting to influence Government policy-making: he believes there is too much dishonesty in lobbying.

Asked about the possible effect of Brexit on small and medium-sized businesses, Matthew responded that leaving the EU will have a significant impact, particularly on the ability of firms to access talent and trade with other countries.

He gave the boys advice on how to enter both the world of lobbying and the Civil Service, as well as giving a few practical tips on progressing as a professional: he stressed the importance of keeping a well-maintained LinkedIn page.

In his spare time, Matthew is a keen golfer – “playing off a measly 20 handicap”. He also continues to play tennis regularly, as well as the odd game of football, when his knee allows.

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