When times are tough, who can you rely on? The government? The police? Your local bank? Oh dear. You can see where I’m coming from on this one.

One by one, the institutions that would once have been the chief supporters of independent neighbourhood stores are letting them down. Successive governments have claimed to be the friend of small business, but in reality the huge amount of regulation being forced on the high street means that even multiple retailers are struggling to cope.

The police are obviously designed to protect the local community, but you are a fortunate retailer indeed if you can get your local force to take shoplifting offences seriously. And I am now starting to hear examples – fortunately just isolated cases, but cases all the the same – of how certain police forces and local authorities are using test purchases primarily to achieve convictions, not to help solve social problems like underage drinking.

Which brings us to the banks. A key principle of entrepreneurship is to buy low and sell high, and with the economic forecast looking rather gloomy, now would be a good time to look at some bargain-basement acquisitions that will pay off when the bust turns into boom again.

Normally this would be the time for the banks to help out, except they are not even lending to each other, let alone anyone else. So, in an unlikely scenario, it seems that the government is riding to the rescue by helping the banks back into liquidity. Hopefully, it might make a positive difference and that small businesses will be the better for it. And that would make a nice change.