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Small Businesses: Scotland

Volume 661: debated on Tuesday 11 June 2019

15. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Scotland on support for small and medium-sized enterprises in Scotland. (911257)

We engage regularly with the Secretary of State for Scotland on how we can achieve our industrial strategy aim to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. The British Business Bank has supported 5,219 small and medium-sized enterprises in Scotland with more than £898 million to date. My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Bill Grant) will be pleased to know that the bank’s start-up loans programme has delivered 61 loans totalling more than £253,000 in his constituency.

As the House is aware, high streets are under pressure as a result of the changing retail landscape. Sadly, in Ayr, we lost our independent department store, Hourstons, earlier this year. It had been trading for 123 years. Will my hon. Friend outline what support is available to local businesses to ensure that they can remain at the heart of their communities?

I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the loss of a department store in his constituency. Let me assure him that the Minister with responsibility for high streets—the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Jake Berry)—and I are committed to working together to support the businesses at the heart of our communities across the country and to deliver the £1.6 billion plan for our high streets, including via the Retail Sector Council. The Ayrshire growth deal, with £103 million of UK Government funding, in my hon. Friend’s constituency—of which he has been a keen supporter—will also help the wider business community.

The business growth accelerator suspends rates for new builds or renovated properties for 12 months, and this Scotland-wide policy has encouraged new development across the country. Is it not the case that while Brexit is set to push the economy off the cliff, the Scottish National party is the only party supporting Scotland’s small businesses?

It will come as no surprise to the hon. Gentleman that I disagree with him. UK Government investment in city region and growth deals in Scotland is now more than £1.3 billion, and there are 48,000 more enterprises operating in Scotland than there were in 2010. We are committed to delivering economic growth and business support across the country, but as the hon. Gentleman will know, it was his Government’s decision to bring in the highest taxes—

21. Some employees in small businesses, including those in Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, will face the prospect of having a child born premature or sick, so why will the Minister not release the findings of the recent Government review into parental leave for such issues, which would help families in Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock and right across these islands? (911263)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this topic. Following the Department’s internal review, we will now consult on the options to provide further support to the parents of premature, sick and multiple babies before the end of the summer. The consultation will be informed by the review’s findings, and I am grateful to Bliss, The Smallest Things and the many Members across the House who have spoken to me and lobbied on the matter.