UK: Government unveils more support for small businesses

Business Secretary Vince Cable. Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Saturday, December 7, 2013
6:00 AM

Measures to help small businesses, including faster broadband and moves to tackle late payments, have been announced by the Government.

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Ministers marked today’s Small Business Saturday by committing to help smaller firms win public sector contracts as well as reduce energy bills.

The announcement is aimed at removing some of the barriers faced by small businesses, such as accessing faster and better broadband connectivity and making it easier to switch energy suppliers.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “I meet with small businesses regularly who tell me about what Government support works well and what doesn’t. Through our commitment to small firms we are directly addressing that feedback, freeing them from unnecessary burdens, providing more finance and improving access to advice and support.

“In particular we are tackling the issue of late payment, which can threaten the survival of otherwise healthy businesses. We are enforcing prompt payment through the entire public sector and asking what more we can do to get credit flowing in the private sector.”

Enterprise and skills minister Matthew Hancock, the MP for West Suffolk, said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the British economy and responsible for nearly half the job creation in the UK. That’s why we are removing barriers to growth and supporting them, so that they can create jobs and compete in the global race.”

Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The Government is right to say that Britain is a great place to start a business. Now it needs to become a great place to grow a business too. That means ensuring that fast-growing and dynamic small companies get access to the capital they need to expand, and access to practical business-to-business support to break into new markets around the world.”

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the manufacturers organisation the EEF, said: “Small businesses are a vital part of the economy and we need to make it easier for them to invest, grow and create the highly skilled innovative jobs our economy needs.

“The more we can grow into larger medium size companies, the better for UK plc. In order to enable this we need to examine every means to removing some of the barriers they face, improving the business environment and making it easier for them to fulfil their potential.”

John Cridland, CBI director general, added: “Small and medium-sized businesses are at the heart of communities across the UK and are the job-creating dynamos of the recovery.

“Small Business Saturday is a great way for people up and down the country to back their local high street in the run-up to Christmas and I would encourage everyone to get involved.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband will today also pledge to help small businesses, adding that it was shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna who brought the idea of Small Business Saturday to the UK from America.

During a visit to south London, he will highlight pledges to cut business rates for 1.5million small business properties, freeze energy bills and be tough on late payers.

He is expected to say: “Labour is changing so that we can go into the next election as the party of small business and enterprise.

“One Nation Labour: offering real help to firms on energy costs and business rates, with plans to reset our energy market, open up capital to invest in regional economies and get ready for a digital future, cracking down on late payment and equipping our young people with the skills that they and you need to succeed.”

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