Small businesses crucial to the British economy

From left, Stuart Hill of Solent LEP, Ken Moon of the Wessex Federation of Small Businesses and Caroline Dinenage at the launch of Bridging the Gap
From left, Stuart Hill of Solent LEP, Ken Moon of the Wessex Federation of Small Businesses and Caroline Dinenage at the launch of Bridging the Gap
Sian Crips, Georgia Perry and Abi Robinson, from Oaklands School, Waterlooville, celebrating their A-level results. Picture: Habibur Rahman PPP-170817-140116006

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Small businesses are absolutely crucial to the British economy, providing half of our country’s private sector jobs and half of all private sector turnover.

I was therefore delighted that the government launched a campaign supporting small businesses this month. On a personal note, it was a great honour to be appointed as one of 12 Small Business Ambassadors by the Prime Minister.

As someone whose background is firmly rooted in a small business, I’m pleased that the government has introduced a raft of measures to help SMEs at every stage.

We have already presided over the largest number of business start-ups in a 12-month period in recorded history, making it easier for firms to grow by removing red tape and introducing them to new export markets.

It’s vital that we continue to build on this and give small businesses all the help and support they need to prosper. It’s a win-win situation, great for local jobs and growth but also great for the economy. For instance, if we could increase the number of SMEs that export from one in five at the moment to one in four, it would wipe out the trade deficit overnight.

During my visits to local businesses throughout the Gosport peninsula, I often hear about difficulties experienced when trying to obtain finance.

It’s what drove me to come up with the idea for The News’ successful Bridging the Gap scheme to help finance new start-ups and small business growth.

I therefore welcome the government’s expansion of the start-up loans programme and its commitment to removing the age limit for this scheme. Securing affordable lending opportunities like this allows companies to grow without being constrained by the failure to access much-needed funds.

But despite these achievements I accept that there is more the government could do. Reform of the business rates scheme is something I regularly raise and I will continue to champion this issue.