Michael welcomed new figures showing that 60 people have started their own business after being helped off benefits in his Sevenoaks constituency, with the support of the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance.
Since its introduction in April 2011, the allowance has helped 73,000 people on out of work benefits across the country to set up their own businesses. Individuals are supported by a business mentor and receive 26 weeks of financial support.
Michael said: “It is excellent news that so many people in my constituency have not only left a life on benefits, but have also started to make such a positive contribution to our economic success. This is the latest example of the Government supporting those who want to work. I wish all those who have been helped by the New Enterprise Allowance every success.”
On Friday, Michael visited The Darent Wax Company Limited in his Sevenoaks constituency.
Michael was shown around the site by Anthony Ward, who founded the business in 1984, and manager Louis Finlayson-Green. They discussed how as the local MP he could support the company’s desire to expand into new premises elsewhere in the constituency.
Michael was particularly impressed by the hardworking team, many of whom live locally and whose skills the company are keen to retain.
The company is a leader in the wax industry with its head office and production facilities based in the Sevenoaks constituency.
Michael said: “It was a great pleasure to be shown around Darent Wax by Tony and Louis today. Small- and medium- sized businesses like this are the lifeblood of our local economy, creating more jobs and prosperity, and I will be supporting future expansion in any way I can.”
The ECA’s south-east regional office is based in Sevenoaks and Michael met ECA staff and representatives from member companies today to discuss their concerns over proposed changes to apprenticeship funding.
The ECA has some 2,800 members ranging from local electricians to national companies with several branches employing thousands of contractors. Around 80% of the membership is made up of SMEs.
Potential solutions to help small businesses to continue to employ and train apprentices by reducing extra bureaucracy and red tape were covered. Michael agreed to report back to Nick Boles MP, the Government’s Skills Minister with the very useful points that were raised at the meeting.
Michael’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.”
Michael visited three small businesses in Eynsford recently; Norman’s Butchers,Sefton Horn Winch (designers of prestigious commercial kitchens and restaurants in the UK and overseas) and G.D. Partnership, (structural engineers involved in major retail developments throughout the UK) all took the opportunity to explain their operations.
Norman’s Butchers have recently launched their 2014 Calendar entitled Hunt the Sausage, a 12-page gem featuring photographs of the village with sausages hidden within them. Images include Eynsford Castle, The World Garden, The Ford, and the butcher boys themselves.
Roger House, Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Kent and Medway said:
“The FSB was pleased to facilitate this event and for Mr Fallon to hear the experiences of real life entrepreneurs running successful companies and for them to be able to explain the challenges small businesses are facing and barriers affecting their continued growth and sustainability.”
The visits were followed by a round table discussion with representatives from several other businesses from a number of different sectors in West Kent with a common concern about employability skills and the need for students at school, college and university to be provided with more knowledge of the workplace.
Michael Fallon MP for Sevenoaks said:
“I was delighted to visit these three small businesses in my constituency as well as having the opportunity to discuss the current economic climate with various business owners and explain what the government is doing to help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to grow and reach their full potential.
The UK economy is turning a corner and SMEs have a vital role in getting this country back onto a solid economic foundation. We will continue to support these businesses through the Regional Growth Fund and from April 2014 every business and charity in the UK will be given a £2,000 allowance towards their National Insurance Contributions bill. I hope these measures, amongst others, will allow businesses in Sevenoaks to flourish.”
Graham Taylor, Chairman for the FSB West Kent Branch said: –
“Businesses took the chance to express their views on a range of topics including finance and regulations and to give feedback to Mr Fallon on the merits of government initiatives to stimulate trade and exporting.”
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!”