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Exiting the EU: Small Businesses

Volume 623: debated on Tuesday 14 March 2017

6. What support his Department is providing to small businesses as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. (909226)

9. What support his Department is providing to small businesses as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. (909229)

Small businesses are vital to the economy, and we are providing additional access to finance and support to help scale up businesses so that they are able to reap the benefits of future trade with the EU and the rest of the world.

I wish everybody a happy Pi Day—“pi,” the mathematical version, not “pie,” the pork version.

The Conservative party broke its 2015 manifesto commitment by failing to consult the business community on the changes to national insurance for the self-employed. Will the Government now address the ongoing uncertainty that those changes could bring to workers’ rights, such as maternity and paternity pay, sick pay, annual leave and pensions?

The Government are absolutely committed, as the Prime Minister has said on several occasions, to protecting workers’ rights as we leave the European Union. And not just to protect those rights but to enhance them, if necessary. She has set up the Taylor review to examine the details.

I call Martin Docherty-Hughes. I am sad to note the rather uncharacteristic absence of the hon. Gentleman. We will do our best to bear up with such fortitude as we can muster.

A number of small businesses in the oil and gas sector supply chain have been hit disproportionately by the oil price reduction. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen South (Callum McCaig) and I held a meeting last week to encourage young businesses to access different methods of capital financing so that they can grow. What are the UK Government doing to encourage such businesses to access capital finance?

Although support for businesses in Scotland is largely devolved, the British Business Bank funds a vast number of companies in Scotland. It has provided £415 million of finance for Scottish companies, including through start-up loans. In addition, more than 1,600 companies in Scotland benefit from the enterprise finance guarantee scheme.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the south-west, and much effort is being put into upping productivity in the region. We in Taunton Deane welcome recent Government investment in a lot of infrastructure and the work that is being done on skills. However, to give us a real fillip, will the Minister, or perhaps someone else from the Department, agree to come to Taunton’s annual business conference on 6 June to give a boost to the things that the Government can help us with?

I thank my hon. Friend for such a wonderful invitation. Although I have already been to the south-west, I am sure I can find an occasion on 6 June to do so again.

The hon. Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) looks as though her cup has runneth over. What a happy day for her and, indeed, for Taunton Deane—not to mention the Minister.

One advantage for small businesses of the United Kingdom leaving the EU is that the House will be free to repeal unwanted EU regulations. What steps is the Minister taking to consult small businesses so that she can identify those regulations?

I assure my hon. Friend that we consult small businesses all the time. The Department for Exiting the European Union regularly engages with the Federation of Small Businesses. We will, in due course, ask that Department to hold a roundtable for small businesses to discuss the very issues that he raises.