Emphasising why small businesses are so vital

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COMMENT: A business community that is simply the best

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This weekend, the UK will celebrate our very first Small Business Saturday, an initiative which started in the USA and is now set to underline the importance of small businesses here in the UK.

It’s part of a campaign to celebrate our small businesses and the vital role they play in our economy and ensure that the government is doing as much as it can to help them succeed.

On Saturday we’re calling on everyone in the UK to shop exclusively in retail outlets owned by small businesses. I hope people will show their support for our fantastic independent retailers on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

At the beginning of the summer, I was honoured to be appointed as a regional figurehead for the campaign when the Prime Minister asked me to be Small Business Ambassador for the south.

Since then businesswoman Karren Brady, from BBC’s The Apprentice, has joined our crusade to champion the importance of small businesses to the British economy.

I am proud that this government is putting legislation in place to help get small businesses booming.

Most recently, it has announced that from April 2014, National Insurance will be cut by up to £2,000 for every British business.

It has also launched a start-up loans scheme, extended small business rates relief and cut red tape.

The News has played its own part in supporting small businesses locally, starting the Bridging The Gap fund with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to secure government investment to assist fledgling and growing businesses to realise their potential.

I recently visited three companies who have benefited from the fund and was delighted to see how the money is helping them to grow and create new jobs.

Here in Gosport, figures published by Barclays show that overall turnover for small businesses increased by eight per cent in the second quarter of this year.

This is great news for our area, but there is still more we can do.