Zed Music Café

With Zoe Ashfield, owner of  Zed Music Café
With Zoe Ashfield, owner of Zed Music Café

Last night Michael launched Link-Up, an initiative set up by Warners Solicitorés to provide networking opportunities for young professionals and associates, at an event hosted by Zed Music Café.

First he congratulated Zoe at the Zed Music Café for taking a huge step and setting up her own business and for hosting the event.

Michael said:  “Zoe’s business is one of the 750,000 more businesses than there were five years ago.  If we cast back to 2010 that is a remarkable change.  Back then our economy was in trouble, with a budget deficit second only to Greece.  The huge numbers of people starting a business has been a surprising feature of our economy since then.   And contrary to what some might say, this is a choice people have made because they have spotted an opportunity and have the confidence to pursue it.  It isn’t something borne of necessity.

“New firms and existing firms have driven the recovery to a position where

  • we are the fastest growing major economy in the world
  • 1000 new jobs have been created every day in this parliament – and three quarters of them are full time jobs

“And what is so important – not only to new businesses, but all businesses – is the advice that you can get from contacts, mentors or customers. Whether it is how to start exporting for the first time, how to secure that finance that you need, or how to get membership of a particular association.

“That’s why Link-Up is an excellent initiative and I hope the people you will meet and the experiences you can share will help all of you to succeed – and by doing so benefit Sevenoaks too.

“I was fortunate enough to be Business Minister for 18 months. In that time I visited some excellent businesses and it reinforced my view that as a country we don’t give enough credit to people in business.

“We all need to do more to make the case for enterprise because it is only with a strong economy and successful businesses that we can fund the public services, defence, the police upon which we all rely.

“As MP for Sevenoaks and a Minister I have been unashamedly pro-enterprise.  That means promoting competition, opening up markets, and championing new firms.  It’s something I’ve done whether in the business department scrapping red tape, or in energy backing new suppliers.  It’s what I am doing in Defence by opening up more spending to SMEs.  And it means delivering lower corporate and personal taxes to ensure Britain was competitive.

“Link Up can play a role in pushing us as a government to do more to help business – and to help make the case for enterprise.

 

I wish you all and the Zed Music Café every success.

West Kent Partnership – Business Engagement

west kent partnershipMichael’s speech at this event highlighted the importance of vibrant SMEs in West Kent to the national economy.  Representing a constituency in West Kent, he said could see first-hand the entrepreneurial zeal of our local business owners and discussed how the Government is backing them.

It is no secret: small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy.  SMEs are the responsible for nearly half the job creation in the UK.  And it is job creation which is a central part of this Government’s economic and welfare plans.  I am sure you will all join with me in welcoming last week’s employment figures which showed that there are now more people in work than ever before.  In the constituency of Sevenoaks we saw the claimant count fall by 225 from August 2013 – August 2014.

It is thanks to the risk takers, the thinkers and the doers who run our SMEs that more people than ever before have the security of a pay package and the Government is backing you wholeheartedly.  But to be able to create the jobs for our economic recovery, SMEs have to do business in an economy which is business-friendly. That’s is why he was so pleased that the Government is backing them in a number of ways:  Michael said:
1.  Tax cuts
“I am a low-tax Conservative so I am pleased that small businesses will now feel the impact of several important tax cuts.  Corporation tax has fallen to 21 per cent; help on business rates has come in; and the landmark Employment Allowance will take up to £2,000 off employers’ National Insurance bills.”
2.  Apprenticeships
“Everyone attending this event will know the value of helping our young onto the career ladder. To help small businesses take on apprentices the Government is providing an extra £85 million for over 100,000 grants to employers, and from April 2015 employer’s national insurance contributions for those under-21 will be abolished, making it easier for businesses to take on more young people.”
3.  Red Tape
“I am perhaps most pleased by the needless red tape which has been cut and the net burden of regulation on business which has fallen by almost £1.5 billion since January 2011.  Speaking to businesses in my constituency, they all say the same thing, red tape and regulation has held them back in the past and we must continue to elevate this burden from them.”
4.  Energy Costs
“I know from my time as Minister for Business and Energy that small businesses are struggling with energy costs. To help them get a fairer deal, the Government has secured an agreement from the major energy firms to end auto-rollovers for business customers, limit back-billing, increase transparency of contract terms and make switching easier.”
5.  Regional Growth Fund/Escalate Programme
“It is essential to give local communities more autonomy to help rebalance our economy towards private-sector growth. Ministers are improving economic development at the regional level through Enterprise Zones and the £3.2 billion Regional Growth Fund.  Significant funding is also being devolved to Local Enterprise Partnerships to enable them to tackle barriers to growth in the private sector in their area.  Here in West Kent, we have already heard this morning of three success stories from the Escalate programme which is a £5.5 million scheme, funded by the Regional Growth Fund. Offering loans on an interest‐free basis to businesses has led to sustained job creation and business expansion.  Also, availability of business rate discounts and Enhanced Capital Allowance will each be extended by three years as an incentive for new and expanding businesses to locate in Enterprise Zones.”

“All over the country and especially here in West Kent, SME’s are driving forward economic growth through innovation and sheer hard work.  It is fantastic that there are now over two million new private sector jobs and 400,000 more businesses than in 2010.  So I encourage you all to continue to be part of the economic success story I look forward to watching you all go from strength to strength in the years to come.”

Sevenoaks Business Awards

sevenoaks business awardsThe Sevenoaks Business Awards, organised by Sevenoaks Town Partnership was held at Coolings Garden Centre on Friday 26th September.

Many congratulations to the winners and all those who took part.  It was great evening, generously supported by sponsors and nominees, illustrating how well the small and medium-sized businesses in Sevenoaks have been growing recently.

On A Roll: Celebrating Local Business Growth

oaks chamber of commerce
Copyright Russell Grant

Speaking at Sevenoaks & District Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Business event at St Julian’s, Underriver on Thursday 5th June, local MP and business Minister Michael Fallon said: “Unemployment in Sevenoaks has fallen substantially since the last General Election.  The number claiming Job Seekers Allowance has fallen from 1,074 in May 2010 to 675 in April 2014 – a drop of 37 per cent.  There are now a record 4,720 businesses registered for VAT in the Sevenoaks area. Local firms have created 1,640 apprenticeships since the last election, over 500 of them last year.  There are still challenges, and the government has announced new plans to improve lending to small firms and to help them win a bigger share of public sector contracts. But Sevenoaks business is on a roll.”

Sevenoaks Businesses Leading The Way

Michael met with local business leaders ahead of the spring Budget to discuss how the Government was helping them reach their full potential.

During the meeting Michael confirmed that Sevenoaks was leading the way; the number of businesses in the area had increased by 1.3% in 2013, compared to 0.6% in the South East region and 0.8% across the UK.

He reinforced the fact that more help was on the way from Government, with every single business set to benefit from the new Employment Allowance which will give them a £2,000 tax cut from their National Insurance this April. The reduction in small companies tax to 20 per cent and the doubling of small business rate relief will give businesses in Sevenoaks the right environment to continue to grow as our economic recovery accelerates.

Supporting Local SMEs at the Sevenoaks Business Show

Opening the Sevenoaks Business Show
Opening the Sevenoaks Business Show

Michael opened the Business Show which was hosted by Sevenoaks Town Partnership in association with Sevenoaks Town Council.  In his speech he said:

“Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have a really important role in getting the UK back onto a solid economic foundation.  They account for 49% of private sector turnover, employ close to 60% of the UK workforce and represent over 90% of UK businesses.

We want to spread the message that Sevenoaks is open for business; from January to August this year there were 65 business start-ups here and there are currently 6,000 businesses registered for VAT or PAYE.”

Speaking to the business exhibitors Michael added: “Current Government initiatives include several measures of support for SMEs:

  • From April 2014 every business and charity in the UK will be given a £2,000 allowance towards their National Insurance Contributions bill, benefitting 1.25 million businesses;
  • There will also be a further cut in Corporation Tax in 2014 to 20 per cent, making the UK tax system one of the most competitive in the world;
  • The 2012 Funding for Lending Scheme has now been now extended and skewed towards SME lending.

“In addition, Sevenoaks Town Council with the Sevenoaks Town Partnership is actively supporting local businesses with a number of splendid initiatives and this 4th Business Show has now become fixed event in the calendar.  The Government supports you, Sevenoaks Town Council supports you and we all salute you!”