SME Council membership revealed ahead of first meeting

The membership of the new Small Business Council has been unveiled ahead of its first meeting later today, as the Government reaffirms its commitment to the UK’s 5.6 million SMEs.

Chaired by Small Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, the Council will work alongside the PM’s Business Council to tackle the key issues facing small firms who will be given new levels of access direct to government.

Almost every business in the country is a small business (99.9%) who in turn support 27 million jobs across the UK, accounting for £4.5 trillion of annual turnover. Almost every billion-pound company, tech giant or multinational corporation started off as small business, which is why this Council has been formed, to help support and nurture the next generation of small firms to thrive and grow.

The Council will include small business organisations such as Small Business Britain, the Federation of Small Businesses and Family Business UK, as well as SMEs themselves.

These include Northern Ireland based furniture manufacturer Environmental Street Furniture who export to 27 countries globally; Midlands-based diamond drill specialists, D-Drill who have been crucial to major projects on the London Tideway and the Silverstone F1 circuit; and London-based superfood manufacturer Creative Nature who found a gap in the market for allergen products and are now stocked by supermarket giants across the UK.

With firms representing all corners of the UK covering sectors including manufacturing, construction, food and drink, the new council aims to truly represent the makeup of UK industry.

The Council will be a powerful voice for small businesses within Government and has been tasked with overseeing three key areas for small firms – Access to finance, skills and support as well as removing barriers.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

Small firms are at the heart of our communities and the engine of our economy – which is why the work of this council is so important. My own experience of working in a small business has given me crucial insights to the problems that SMEs face on a daily basis, from barriers to growth or access to finance.

We’re giving small firms a big voice, so they can directly air their concerns to government without delay – only when we work together can we tackle some of the burning issues SMEs are facing – only then can we help boost jobs and grow the economy.

FSB Policy Chair Tina McKenzie MBE said:

This new council is important because it will bring what’s happening at the front line of British business, from our 5.5 million small business owners, right into the heart of Government. 

Alongside No.10’s existing corporate Business Council, the new body will shine a light on the unique challenges small firms face on areas such as finance, regulation and skills.  FSB is pleased to join it, and we hope to focus on how to reignite economic growth across our community.

Neil Davy, CEO of Family Business UK, said: 

We are delighted to be part of the new Small Business Council, representing family businesses from across all regions and communities of the UK to highlight the unique challenges they face and the practical new ideas we have for generating economic growth. 

It is great to see this group reflect the different models of business that make up the UK economy. Family firms offer a unique perspective due to their long-term view, and we look forward to working with the Council to deliver support and advice to help SMEs learn, thrive and grow.

Michelle Ovens CBE, Founder of Small Business Britain, said:

The diverse, varied and vibrant British small businesses are at the heart of our economy, society and communities and it is vital they are at the heart of policy too. Their needs and skills are often quite different to bigger businesses, so it’s really important that this new Small Business Council has been launched, to hear their unique perspectives and examine tailored solutions.

We are looking forward to working with Government to help unleash the massive power and potential of small businesses for the UK.

Thomas Robson-Kanu, Founder of The Turmeric Co., said:

Since launching in 2018, The Turmeric Co. has experienced rapid growth, but securing funding and navigating regulations as a purpose-driven SME presented hurdles. I’m eager to share our journey and advocate for solutions that unlock growth for UK’s vibrant businesses. Hurdles can truly make or break a SME, and more support around these will make a world of difference.

Julie White, Managing Director of D-Drill & Sawing, said:

I’m honoured to have been selected to join the new Small Business Council and welcome this opportunity to share my thoughts on what it’s like doing business in the current climate. Everyone knows that trading is tough, and it’s vital that SMEs are given as much support as possible to help them to grow.

Working with business, the Government can help to create the right economic conditions to help us all flourish by ensuring consistent policy, improving procurement and providing support for skills.

The Government is ensuring small firms have the support they need with a £4.3 billion package to support SMEs with business rates and extending the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief for a fifth year, we are helping businesses navigate challenging economic times.

We are also providing the swift and simple access to finance that SMEs need to start and grow, with the British Business Bank having delivered over £1 billion of loans to over 100,000 businesses, and UK Export Finance providing £6.5 billion of support to help businesses export around the world.

In recent weeks, the Government has made a series of announcements to support small business owners. The Lilac Review was jointly unveiled with Small Business Britain – as a major new independent review determined to tackle and overcome the inequality faced by disabled business owners.

And the Help to Grow campaign website has been relaunched and refreshed, as a one-stop shop for SMEs to find the information they need to grow and scale up. This includes helping small firms to clearly identify what funding they can access, helpful webinars as well as the basics of how to set up a business for the first time.

SME Council Members:

Michelle Ovens CBE  Founder/CEO – Small Business Britain 

Neil Davy CEO – Family Business UK

Tina McKenzie MBE – Policy Chair – Federation of Small Businesses 

Emma Heal, MD – Lucky Saint

Thomas Robson Kanu, Founder – The Turmeric Co.

Julianne Ponan MBE CEO – Creative Nature Superfoods

Peter Davies MD – James Lister and Sons

Gary Parlett, Co-founder –  Answer Digital

Tania Boler, Founder – Elvie

Richard Marshall, Founder – Pall Mall Barbers

Elizabeth Vega, CEO – Informed Solutions

Tessa Clarke, Co-founder – Olio

Jordan Schwarzenberger, Co-founder – Arcade Media

Julie White, MD- D-Drill

Mike Bristow, CEO & co-founder – CrowdProperty

Debbie Williams, Co-founder – John Williams Heating Ltd

Roni Savage, MD – Jomas Associates

Andrew Bissell, CEO – Sunamp

Alan Lowry, CEO – Environmental Street Furniture

Link: SME Council membership revealed ahead of first meeting
Source: Assent Information Services

UK signs landmark economic partnership with Nigeria

  • Kemi Badenoch to sign first-of-its-kind trade and investment partnership
  • Partnership will build on strong UK-Nigeria trading relationship worth £7 billion and unlock new opportunities in sectors such as legal, financial services and energy
  • Visit comes as UK energy firm Konexa sign deal to support Nigeria’s transition to sustainable energy

The UK will today [Tuesday 13 February] sign a deal with Nigeria to boost trade and investment and unlock new opportunities for UK and Nigerian businesses. 

The Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) is the first the UK has signed with an African country and is designed to grow the UK and Nigeria’s already thriving trading relationship, which totalled £7 billion in the year to September 2023. 

The agreement will create opportunities across a breadth of sectors crucial to both economies, such as financial and legal services.  

It will see Nigeria commit to working towards removing barriers preventing UK lawyers from practising international and foreign law in Nigeria, a step that could significantly increase UK legal services exports. It will also pave the way for further collaboration in the film and media industry and encourage world-leading UK education providers to offer high quality education in Nigeria.

Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa and one of the world’s fastest growing economies – predicted to be in the top 20 by GDP by 2035. It is also predicted by the UN to nearly double its population to over 370 million people by 2050

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: 

This partnership with Nigeria – the UK’s first such agreement with an African country – will allow us to work together and seize the opportunities that lie ahead. 

Nigeria has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. UK businesses have already seen huge success here and I look forward to seeing how we continue to grow this relationship.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch will sign the ETIP alongside Nigerian Trade Minister Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite in Abuja on Tuesday 13 February.  

While in Nigeria she is also visiting the site of a new Charterhouse school, the first UK independent school in West Africa, and meeting with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Finance Minister to unblock trade barriers facing UK businesses. 

Nigerian Minister for Trade Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite said: 

 “The UK is one of our long-standing strategic partners with whom we share strong ties, >and it gladdens me that this relationship is set to deepen as we sign the Enhanced >Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement. 

This partnership will see Nigeria-UK relations move beyond one of shared history and >strong ties to one of shared economic prosperity. From increasing market access and >supporting our vibrant businesses, to creating more jobs and accelerate greater >investments in sectors of mutual interests.” 

TheCityUK International Managing Director Nicola Watkinson said: 

Nigeria is an important growth market for the UK-based financial and related >professional services industry and TheCityUK welcomes the signing of the new ETIP. >We look forward to continuing our engagement through the working groups to increase >market access and remove regulatory frictions.” 

While in Nigeria, Business and Trade Secretary will also witness the signing of a landmark energy agreement between UK based energy firm Konexa and Nigerian power generation company North South Power (NSP).  

The agreement will enable Konexa to supply Nigerian Breweries PLC with 100% renewable power, promote sustainable development and clean energy adoption, and lead to infrastructure investments of over £14 million. 

Konexa CEO Pradeep Pursnani said: 

 “This is a very important milestone for Konexa, North South Power, Nigerian >Breweries, and all our investment partners. Over the last few years, Konexa has been >working on a disruptive model that matches customer energy demand with renewable >energy supply.   

We are looking forward to investing more than £120m in renewable energy generation, >transmission, distribution, and battery storage solutions to help our customers >transition away from the use of fossil fuel.” 

Significant progress has been made in resolving trade between the UK and Nigeria in the education and financial sectors, which has created a more favourable trading environment for UK businesses. 

A recent resolution helped to remove restrictions to Transnational Education investment in Nigeria worth around worth around £55 million over 5 years, meaning leading UK education providers, like Charterhouse, can establish campuses in Nigeria.  

The financial services sector is also a key area of collaboration. Achieving a remittance resolution has helped to streamline multiple foreign exchange windows into a single import and export window, making it easier for UK businesses to trade with Nigeria. 

Notes to editors 

  • UK exports to Nigeria were £4 billion in the 12 months to the end of September 2023, an increase of 3% in current prices from the 12 months to September 2022.  
  • Source for trade statistics: ONS UK total trade, all countries, July to September 2023 
  • In August 2023, the Foreign Secretary launched the Propcom+ programme, a UK government-led climate programme which aims to support more than 4 million people in Nigeria (50% of whom will be women) to adopt and scale sustainable agricultural practices that increase productivity and climate resilience while reducing emissions and protecting natural ecosystems. 
  • The UK already has an ambitious Developing Countries Trading Scheme, which has granted enhanced preferential access for almost 3,000 Nigerian products and continues to benefit UK consumers. 
  • Working groups and business dialogues will take place to ensure businesses on both sides benefit and have access to the opportunities this presents. 
  • Further details on the methodology for removing market access barriers such as restrictions to Transnational Education investment in Nigeria are published in a DBT Analytical Working Paper.

Link: UK signs landmark economic partnership with Nigeria
Source: Assent Information Services

Government backs SMEs with new Help to Grow campaign and small business council

  • Refreshed Help to Grow campaign launched to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ of support and advice for small firms
  • Comes as new Small Business Council to be formed to support SMEs across the UK
  • Package reaffirms government’s commitment to making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business

The Government is today reaffirming its commitment to all the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses, with the creation of a new Small Business Council due to launch next month which will bring together SME leaders from across the country.  

The Council builds on the Department’s existing support for SMEs and will provide a bespoke forum for small businesses to have their voices represented within Government.  

Almost every business in the country is a small business (99.9%) who in turn support 27 million jobs across the UK, accounting for £4.5 trillion of annual turnover – which is why the government is making 2024 the year of the SME. 

In addition to the formation of the Council, the Help to Grow campaign and website has also been refreshed to create a one-stop shop for SMEs to find the information they need to grow and scale up. This will include helping small firms to clearly identify what funding they can access, webinars as well as the basics of setting up a business for the first time. 

We know that for many people, starting a new business for the very first time can be a daunting process and that’s why the government’s refreshed website features a step-by-step guide with practical advice for people wanting to set up and grow their business in the UK.  

The new site will bring together the support on offer from the government into one place, making it quicker and more convenient to find the resources business leaders and budding entrepreneurs need to succeed.  

This support includes the new Help to Grow management courses as announced in the Autumn Statement. which go live today. The Help to Grow: Management scheme is an intensive 12-week programme to improve SME leadership and management skills. SMEs from all sectors are able to access the programme that is 90% subsidised by government. This has already supported nearly 8,000 businesses, with the ambition to support up to 30,000 over the programme’s lifetime.  

To mark the refreshed campaign, the Prime Minister will host a panel event in Downing Street with small business leaders including, Tom Beahon of Castore, Tessa Clarke of Olio and Jordan Schwarzenberger of Arcade Media to discuss how to start and scale a successful business in the UK, leveraging talent, technology and the support already on offer.  

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: 

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local communities and drive the UK’s economy, supporting jobs and wages across the country.  

“This new Council will mean SMEs have a clear voice at the table and we can deliver on the key needs for business. 

“We are taking action to ensure that they have the support, tools and guidance they need to thrive – because when small businesses succeed, the UK succeeds.” 

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: 

“I know first hand how important small businesses are, but I also understand some of the barriers they face to start up or grow their existing firm. 

“Which is why I’m proud of the work we’re doing as government to really tackle some of the burning issues SMEs face on a daily basis – only then can we help boost jobs and grow the economy.” 

Julianne Ponan MBE, Owner and CEO of Creative Nature:

“The Department of Business and Trade played a pivotal role in enabling our expansion into international markets. We now export our products to more than 18 countries globally. Through their support, we participated in trade exhibitions such as Gulfood under the Great British Pavilion, where we successfully generated significant business opportunities.

Additionally, accessing matching funds has empowered us, as a small business, to venture into new markets that would have otherwise been challenging for us to enter the market as a Top 14 Allergen Free Food brand.”

Jake Xu, Co-Founder of Shakeup Cosmetics:

“We have had support from DBT at various stages of our business. Even before we launched, DBT put us in touch with their representatives in different territories, through these conversations we gathered valuable market insights as well as figuring out our best route to market. We then received Internationalisation Grant from DBT for a trip to Asia which led us to securing our distribution partner.

Last year, through British Business Bank and DBT, we successfully secured a 6 figure loan to supercharge our growth. It provided the lifeline to our business and the cash we needed to fuel our ambitious plan going forward.”

Rushina Shah, Founder of Insane Grain

“I have received government support for my business including the small business grant fund which helped us survive during covid, SEIS relief for investors to make it easier to raise capital and R&D tax relief to allow us to continuously innovate. I would encourage other SMEs to explore the options available to them too.”

The Small Business Minister is also launching the Lilac Review jointly with small business Britain – a major new independent review determined to tackle and overcome the inequality faced by disabled business owners. 

The government already has a strong record of backing British businesses – including by cutting taxes, removing barriers to growth and providing new opportunities with key trade deals, and improving access to finance. This includes through our export support service and UK Export Finance, which together are helping to get more small firms exporting around the world for the first time.  

The single biggest way we’re backing businesses is by creating the economic conditions for them to thrive, which is why the government has worked hard to deliver on our priorities to halve inflation, grow the economy and cut debt. We’ve made significant progress and it’s clear the economy is turning a corner: 

  • We’ve more than halved inflation from 11.1% to 4%; wages have risen faster than inflation for the past five months; and borrowing costs are starting to come down.

  • The economy has done better than predicted – since 2010, we have seen the third highest rate of growth in the G7, outpacing Italy, France, Japan and Germany. The OECD predict we will see lower inflation that the OECD average next year, and the IMF predict we will grow faster than Italy and Japan from 2025-28.

  • Debt is on track to fall as a share of the economy.

The government is also tackling a key issue affecting small firms – late payments. We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to do business, which is why Minister Hollinrake launched the Prompt Payment and Cash Flow Review in 2023. Since the report was unveiled, we are looking at how to prosecute large firms who persistently and knowingly fail to adhere to the Payment Practice Reporting Regulations. 

The government is committed to supporting small firms right across the country, which is why the British Business Bank has supported over 90,000 SMEs and their start up loan scheme has issued more than £1 billion in loans. Our business rates package worth £4.3 billion over the next 5 years will help high streets. We’ve extended the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief for 230,000 businesses and frozen the small business multiplier for another year, which will save the average independent pub over £13,000. 

We’ve frozen alcohol duty until August 1st 2024 and introducing Small Producer Relief effective to allow small businesses who produce alcoholic products with an ABV of less than 8.5% to be eligible for reduced rates of alcohol duty on qualifying products. 

We will do everything we can to make the UK the best place to do business and Help to Grow provides the long-term support businesses in the UK need to deliver a brighter future for Britain and improve economic security and opportunity for everyone. 

Link: Government backs SMEs with new Help to Grow campaign and small business council
Source: Assent Information Services