The West Kent Partnership of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, which includes Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks hosted a business breakfast today: West Kent – The Big Priorities – Have Your Say. 80 businesses were represented at the breakfast to discuss the big, local issues that are holding their business back.
Michael opened the Conference and Exhibition with the following speech:
“It’s a pleasure to be here and to see some many of the businesses that are making a major contribution to our growing economy and creating jobs for local people.
“What is striking about the last five years is the rate of business creation. Across the South East there are 103,000 more business now than in 2010 – 750,000 in total for the country.
“If you cast your mind back to 2010 that is a remarkable change. Back then our economy was in trouble, with a budget deficit second only to Greece. But it doesn’t surprise those of us who understand that it is businesses that generate the wealth that funds our public services.
“That’s why despite the fiscal challenges we faced, the cornerstone of our economic plan was to back business. We’ve cut corporation tax, increased tax incentives for investing in growing businesses, cut the jobs tax, and invested in infrastructure.
” It is thanks to the efforts of millions of firms across the country that we are now the fastest growing major economy in the world. And that 1000 new jobs have been created everyday in this parliament – three quarters of them full time jobs.
“I was fortunate to be Business Minister for 18 months. In that role I championed business and the concerns that the Chambers of Commerce and others raised – cutting red tape, improving the supply of credit to small firms by backing challenger banks and new providers such as peer-to-peer lenders, and simplifying business support.
“On local growth, I worked with local authorities and LEPs to agree Growth Deals and give them greater powers and freedom to help improve infrastructure and support business in their areas.
“In the Budget the Chancellor outlined further measures to promote growth including an ambition for ultrafast broadband to be available to nearly all premises, a comprehensive review of business rates, and scrapping the annual tax return.
“But there is always more to do to help firms grow – whether it is to start exporting, to harness the potential of technology to move into new markets or innovate, or to increase access to finance.
“So I am delighted that West Kent B2B is leading the way in identifying barriers to growth and practical steps to help boost the local economy. And I note that your agenda covers the big themes of tax, finance, technology that can help drive your businesses forward.”