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

New laws to introduce digital labelling for businesses and reduce regulation costs

  • New legislation to introduce digital labelling for British businesses to cut red tape and save millions in unnecessary regulation costs
  • Recognition of CE marking continued for products such as toys and machinery, easing burdens to businesses
  • Digital labelling reforms made possible by Brexit and ensures the UK’s regulatory requirements are fit for the modern world

Businesses are set to benefit from reduced costs and burdens as import labels are made digital for the first time.

Digital labelling will allow businesses to put important regulatory or manufacturing information online rather than requiring them to physically print it on their products – saving time and money which can be pushed towards scaling up and growing their company.

This measure has been made possible by leaving the EU and provides greater flexibility than the EU’s regulatory requirements while better reflecting the modern and digital world of business and international trade.

This follows the Product Safety Review consultation and extensive industry engagement – looking at ways to cut costs while benefitting consumers and ensuring our regulatory system is agile and a move towards digital labelling has been something the industry have consistently called for.

Business and Trade Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

“I know first-hand the difficulties businesses face with regulations and red tape, and what we’re announcing today will not only ease business burdens and costs but will enable them to spend their time growing their companies and creating jobs.

“We’ve worked closely with multiple sectors to create policy that works for them and this is another step in the right direction to back British businesses.”

The CE or UKCA marking is used on products to demonstrate the manufacturer is compliant with legal requirements. Last summer, DBT announced the intention to indefinitely recognise current EU requirements, including the CE marking, for the 18 product regulations under the department’s remit.

Following feedback from industry, we are introducing legislation to continue the recognition of CE marking indefinitely for a range of additional regulations which will benefit products including vacuum cleaners and televisions. Full list of covered regulations are below. The UK government is taking a tailored approach to product regulation to ensure the interests of UK businesses, consumers and the economy are taken into account.

This comes as part of wider range of measures as part of our smarter regulation programme, which ensures our laws and regulatory regime are better tailored in the interests of UK businesses, consumers and the economy.

This announcement does not apply to regulations for medical devices, construction products, marine equipment, rail products, cableways, transportable pressure equipment and unmanned aircraft systems, led by relevant government departments.

The indefinite recognition of current EU requirements, including the CE marking, for these 21 regulations means businesses have the flexibility to use either the UKCA or CE marking (Or reverse epsilon marking where applicable) to sell products in Great Britain.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive:

“Recognising CE marking indefinitely is very welcome and a common sense decision that will benefit the motorist and the competitiveness of the UK automotive industry. It means that thousands of aftermarket and supply chain businesses can continue to source vital automotive parts without unnecessary additional cost and complexity, keeping costs low for consumers and ensuring vehicles are built and maintained to the highest possible standards.” 

A GAMBICA spokesperson said: 

“UK suppliers of instrumentation, control, automation and laboratory equipment, within the membership of GAMBICA, appreciate the government’s engagement and practical steps to facilitate movement of goods across the GB border to ensure the long-term supply of critical components from a complex global supply chain.” 

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, Stephen Phipson, said:

“The addition of three further regulated sectors that will benefit from the indefinite recognition of current EU requirements including the use of CE marking, is a welcome move that manufactures who develop and sell products in these areas will very much welcome and support.  

“The added introduction of a ‘fast track’ process for products that are covered by multiple regulations, new permanent arrangements for labelling flexibility and an option for digital labelling, will all work together to help safeguard the competitiveness of manufacturers and aid the UK as a destination for investment. Make UK has called for the indefinite extension of a CE marking recognition for all UK manufactured goods to be a permanent change, and this should cover all goods and products sectors produced using a manufacturing process.” 

TechUK Director of Markets Matthew Evans said:

“We strongly support the government’s decision to allow the voluntary use of e-labelling, in line with our key recommendations during the UK’s product compliance framework review. This represents a modern and progressive approach by DBT and will undoubtedly cut compliance costs, foster innovation, and lessen environmental impact. It will also align the UK with major trading partners like the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea, improving our trading relationships.”

A new ‘Fast-Track UKCA’ process will also be introduced, allowing manufacturers to use the UKCA marking to demonstrate compliance with either UKCA or recognised EU conformity processes. Where products are covered by multiple regulations, a mixture of both UKCA and CE conformity assessment procedures can be used.

This is designed to provide longer-term certainty and flexibility for businesses should the UK mandate UKCA for certain regulations in the future.  

Notes to Editors:

Regulations in scope of this announcement

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) regulations in scope of this announcement are:

·        Equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres Regulations 2016/1107 

·        Electromagnetic compatibility Regulations 2016/1091 

·        Lifts Regulations 2016/1093 

·        Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016/1101 

·        Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016/1105 

·        Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015/1553 

·        Recreational Craft Regulations 2017/737 

·        Radio Equipment Regulations 2017/1206 

·        Simple Pressure Vessels (Safety) Regulations 2016/1092 

·        Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011/1881 

·        Aerosol Dispensers Regulations 2009/ 2824 

·        Gas Appliances (EU Regulation) 2016/426 

·        Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008/1597 

·        Noise Emission in the Environment by Equipment for use Outdoors Regulations 2001/1701 

·        Personal Protective Equipment (EU Regulation) 2016/425 

·        Measuring Instruments Regulations 2016/1153 

·        Non-automatic weighing instruments Regulations 2016/1152 

·        Measuring Container Bottles (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1977  

For the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): 

·        The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 (‘The RoHS Regulations’)  

For the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ):

·        The Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products Regulations 2010 

For the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) [The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)]:

·        The Explosives Regulations 2014

Regulations not in scope of this announcement:

The UK government is taking a tailored approach to product regulation to ensure the interests of UK businesses, consumers and the economy are taken into account. There are certain sectors which require a bespoke approach to conformity assessment, and therefore extending recognition of the CE marking for products under the following regulations is not being included in this legislation. This includes:  

For The Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC): 

·        Construction Product Regulations 2013 

For The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) [- Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)] 

·        The Medical Devices Regulations 2002 

For the Department for Transport (DFT) 

·        The Railways (interoperability) Regulations 2011 

·        Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment Regulations) 2016 

·        The Cableway Installations Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/816) and The Cableway Installations (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/1347). 

·        The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009

·        Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Regulation 2019/945

Link: New laws to introduce digital labelling for businesses and reduce regulation costs
Source: Assent Information Services

UK Government strengthens UK-Japan partnership on cyber

Today the two countries have agreed to a Memorandum of Cooperation to deepen public-private partnerships in cyber between the UK and Japan. 

The Memorandum was signed during the course of a three-day visit to the UK from Japan’s Keidanren Cyber Security Committee, hosted by the National Cyber Advisory Board (NCAB).

Co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minster, Oliver Dowden, and Chief Information Officer at Lloyds Banking Group, Sharon Barber, NCAB was formed in 2022 to bring together leaders from academia and industry. The group aims to present alternative viewpoints and harness networks from across the cyber ecosystem, supporting delivery of the National Cyber Strategy

Signing the Memorandum on behalf of the UK, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden said,

Cyber is the new frontier. To ensure we remain at the forefront of cyber strategy we must continue to work with democratic partners who share our values”. 

Japan is an important friend and ally, sharing our beliefs on areas such as rule of law, climate change and human rights. This latest partnership further strengthens our relationship with Japan following the signing of the Hiroshima Accord and promotes collaboration across the public and private sector, strengthening our economy and demonstrating the UK Government’s commitment to making long-term decisions to secure our future.

The Japanese delegation met with key figures from the public sector alongside industry experts including senior representatives from IBM and Sharon Barber, Chief Information Officer at Lloyds Banking Group, to discuss securing digital supply chains, engaging businesses on cyber resilience and best practice recruitment to increase cyber skills across both countries.

This builds on the UK and Japan’s work together to strengthen our shared values of democracy, rule of law and free and open trade. In May 2023 the UK and Japan signed the Hiroshima Accord committing to an enhanced Global Strategic Partnership on issues such as global security, resilience and climate change.

Signing on behalf of Japan, Dr. Nobuhiro Endo commented,

Based on this MoC, Keidanren is determined to further deepen and broaden bilateral cooperation between our public and private sectors. From the perspective of co-creating a data-driven society, we hope to continue to discuss safe and secure use of digital technologies including AI.

Co-chair of NCAB, Sharon Barber commented, 

Close collaboration between government and industry is at the heart of NCAB. The Memorandum of Cooperation between the UK and Japan is a significant further step on our journey and one which will help both nations further mature their private-public partnerships on cyber, and ultimately support the delivery of each nation’s cyber security strategy.

Link: UK Government strengthens UK-Japan partnership on cyber
Source: Assent Information Services

UK Export Finance unveils extra support for SME exporters

  • The government’s export credit agency has announced new measures to help small businesses access more exporting opportunities than ever at its annual conference
  • Addressing up to 1,000 business leaders and industry delegates, the Minister for Exports revealed that UKEF can now fast-track applications for competitive trade finance worth up to £10 million – double the previous limit

UK Export Finance (UKEF) announces today at its annual conference that it is introducing more flexible, fast-track financing for small businesses – making it easier than ever for UK firms to sell in international markets.

More fast-track funding for small UK exporters

The export credit agency has expanded its ‘auto-inclusion’ scheme which provides fast-track access to trade finance products like the General Export Facility. This means that small businesses can now access more government-backed credit more quickly without manual intervention from UKEF.  

The maximum support which UKEF can offer under auto-inclusion has doubled from £5 million to £10 million, meaning that UK exporters can access more support with a simple request through a participating bank.

This is a boost for small businesses, which have already unlocked over £280 million in financing through the fast-track scheme since it was unveiled in 2021.

The maximum tenor for loans under the General Export Facility has also increased from two to five years, giving businesses more flexible repayment terms where most needed.

New ‘invest-to-export’ product secures investment supporting over 2,000 jobs

UKEF has announced its first ever ‘Invest-to-Export’ loan guarantee, securing a major overseas investment in North-East England. Helping South Korean manufacturer SeAH Steel Holding to build a wind technology factory in Teesside, this UKEF-backed financing will support more than 1,500 jobs in the UK supply chain as the factory creates major opportunities for suppliers small and large. This first use of the ‘invest-to-export’ EDG product heralds the availability of more funding to support businesses investing in new UK export opportunities.

Tim Reid, CEO at UK Export Finance, said:

We’re proud to celebrate another successful year of supporting UK businesses. In speaking with our customers – and especially with small businesses – it’s clear that ease of accessing finance and flexibility in repayment terms make a big difference for firms wanting to export.

We’re confident that our announcements will unlock even more deals for UK firms looking to sell to the world, whether they’re exporting for the first time or looking for the latest in a long line of export successes.

New routes into major overseas markets

Around 7,500 SMEs from the UK export to India, one of the UK’s closest trading partners.[1] A new agreement between UKEF and HSBC India paves the way towards a financing programme to support UK exporters hoping to enter this market.  

The two organisations will today sign a Letter of Intent outlining their ambition to establish a financing programme under UKEF’s Standard Buyer Loan Guarantee (SBLG) programme. This would unlock up to £100 million in potential loans allowing Indian buyers to purchase UK goods and services.

Commenting on the Letter of Intent, Stuart Tait, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC UK, said:

HSBC UK has a strong relationship with UKEF, supporting British exporters to achieve their global ambitions. As one of the world’s leading international banks, we’re uniquely positioned to support the growth of trade and investment between India and the UK. We look forward to helping UK businesses tap into more opportunities – using our global network to bridge customers, cultures and economies.

Today’s conference includes speeches from UKEF’s CEO Tim Reid and Lord Malcom Offord, Minister for Exports, alongside senior leaders from major financial institutions and partner organisations.  

This follows the Autumn Statement yesterday, which unveiled that the government will offer additional support to help SMEs access global markets through UK Export Finance.


Link: UK Export Finance unveils extra support for SME exporters
Source: Assent Information Services

New multi-million pound Programme helps British SMEs lead the way on net zero air travel

  • Government launches new funding Programme targeting cutting-edge SME aerospace research projects to advance net zero aviation and boost high-skilled jobs.
  • Worth up to £10 million per year, the Programme will help secure more high-skilled aerospace jobs across the UK.
  • Funding provided through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) will drive innovative UK SME research projects and grow UK’s share of global aerospace sector, helping to grow the economy.

Cutting-edge British aerospace companies are set to benefit from a new multi-million pound SME Programme that will secure high-skilled jobs and help the UK lead the way on greener air travel.

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) SME Programme will offer UK-based small and medium-sized firms the chance to bid for a share of £10 million total funding per year towards their innovative research projects.

The Programme is being announced by Industry Minister Nusrat Ghani today (14 November) at the ATI’s 2023 Conference in Birmingham. It will be delivered in partnership with the ATI and Innovate UK.

Industry Minister Nusrat Ghani said:

I’m delighted to announce the new ATI SME Funding Programme, which will help propel our world-leading aerospace sector to new heights in the pursuit of innovative, clean, green air travel.

UK aerospace businesses, with their expertise and innovation, are helping drive the industry on its journey to Net Zero by 2050, and in the process are helping us grow the UK economy and support high-skill, high-wage jobs.

ATI CEO Gary Elliott said:

We know from the success of the ATI Programme that supporting advanced technologies secures market share for the UK, bringing economic benefit and delivering against the sector’s sustainability commitments on our journey to Destination Zero.

By connecting capability and funding technology development, the SME Programme will benefit organisations of all sizes across the nations and regions of the UK.

The new Programme will open to applications in February 2024 and aims to give SMEs the best opportunities possible to apply for funding to develop innovative technologies supporting the Government’s commitment to Jet Zero.

This is the plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions for commercial aircraft by 2050, while also keeping the UK’s aerospace industry competitive in the sustainable design, manufacture, assembly and operation of future aircraft.

The Programme will allow SMEs in the UK aerospace sector to bid for grants of up to £1.5 million each, helping to boost high-skilled jobs in the industry across the UK.

It also builds on the Government’s commitment to backing UK aerospace R&D to succeed, as demonstrated by the ATI Programme, for which government provided £685 million in 2022.

Support for organisations engaging with the SME Programme will be delivered by the ATI Hub. This will include sessions with ATI technologists, themed innovation workshops and guidance on preparing for a pitch-panel presentation.

The ATI Hub can also generate new connections between start-ups, SMEs, bigger and tier one organisations which could become consortia applications to the SME Programme.


  • The ATI Programme is a joint government and industry investment. Its purpose is to competitively offer funding for research and technology development in the UK, to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace and accelerate the transition to net zero aviation.
  • The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has a well-developed approach to supporting the aerospace sector, including: £685 million of funding for the ATI Programme; the Aerospace Growth Partnership sector council which has developed the Destination Zero strategy for aerospace, a technology strategy developed by the ATI, and support for airline sales campaigns.
  • The new SME scheme will be funded through the ATI Programme.

Link: New multi-million pound Programme helps British SMEs lead the way on net zero air travel
Source: Assent Information Services

Expert regional innovation hubs given £75 million boost to local research, businesses and economies across UK

  • Eight dynamic innovation Launchpads in every corner of the country granted share of £75 million to turbocharge ideas and regional economies through targeted support for SMEs
  • will span key sectors including renewable energy, agri-tech, and digital healthcare solutions, supporting research, innovative resources for SMEs and joint ventures
  • builds on Liverpool and Teesside pilots protecting our coasts from impacts of climate change and reducing landfill

Regional clusters of world-class innovation across the UK are being backed by a share of £75 million that will boost local economies and pioneer game-changing solutions from healthcare to net zero, UK Science Minister George Freeman has announced today (Monday 23 October).

Following pilots in Liverpool and Teesside, launched earlier this year, a further 8 Launchpads, facilitated by Innovate UK, will be rolled out across every nation of the UK. These initiatives will build on existing clusters of high-tech innovation in each region, such as renewable energy in Southwest Wales, Agri-tech in East Anglia and digital health in Yorkshire.  

Launchpads is a programme that supports emerging clusters of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing each Launchpad up to £7.5 million from Innovate UK to fund innovation projects led by local businesses.

The £7.5 million bespoke funding from each Launchpad will allow SMEs in each region to bid for support that is tailored to the unique needs of each business cluster, helping them drive innovation, expand operations, and boost their local economies.

Launchpads concentrate their support in specific areas of the UK with strong innovation capabilities. This approach encourages close collaboration with local leaders and provides tailored support, including funding for research and development, access to specialised innovation resources, and opportunities for SMEs to connect, share ideas, and participate in joint ventures.

Teesside University has so far taken the lead in net-zero research projects, investing in initiatives like waste diversion technologies to reduce landfill waste and protect the environment. Meanwhile, funding for Liverpool City Region is backing 23 green projects including an eco-friendly concrete block to help protect coastal communities against climate change-related flooding, which has supported dozens of jobs.

George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, who has made government support for regional R&D and innovation clusters a key priority, said:

The UK science, research and innovation economy is not just the ‘golden triangle’ of Cambridge-Oxford-London. It is all around the UK.

From Glasgow satellite manufacturing to Manchester materials, Teeside hydrogen and Liverpool life sciences, alongside as many as 25 other globally recognised hubs around the UK – we have world class R&D – and supporting these regional clusters of world class innovation is central to our plan to make the UK an ‘Innovation Nation’.

That is why we have launched our flagship Launchpads programme – and this £75 million investment will support high-growth companies to build the industries of tomorrow – in sectors from renewable energy through to digital health. These Launchpads will play a pivotal role in growing our local economies, creating jobs and levelling up the UK.

The funding follows a competitive bidding process involving more than 40 proposals from across the UK put forward by local leaders and carefully evaluated by a panel of Innovate UK directors, sector experts and academics.

The project aims to establish world-leading, globally interconnected innovation clusters, catalysing increased employment, economic growth, and productivity within these regions. 

The 8 clusters, following investment in Liverpool City Region and Teesside, to receive funding are: 

  • Net Zero Industry Launchpad – Located in South West Wales, this Launchpad is dedicated to the pursuit of sustainable solutions in net-zero industrial emissions
  • Digital Technologies Launchpad – Positioned in North East England, this Launchpad will be at the forefront of digital technologies applied into fast growth and emerging markets
  • Health Technologies Launchpad – Based in West Yorkshire, this Launchpad is dedicated to pioneering breakthroughs in technologies that will improve healthcare outcomes
  • Agri-tech and Food Tech Launchpad – Nestled in Eastern England, this Launchpad will revolutionise agri-tech and food technology, driving innovation in food production and sustainability
  • Marine and Maritime Launchpad – Located in the Great South West, this Launchpad will support initiatives in marine and maritime industries, fostering growth and sustainability in this sector
  • Bio-based Manufacturing Launchpad – Positioned in Scotland, this Launchpad will drive innovations in bio-based manufacturing, promoting sustainable production methods 
  • Immersive and Creative Industries Launchpad – Centred on Coventry and Warwickshire in the West Midlands, this Launchpad will champion technologies for the creative industries and immersive experiences, paving the way for groundbreaking innovations.  Innovate UK will deliver this Launchpad in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Life and Health Sciences Launchpad – Situated in Northern Ireland, this Launchpad is dedicated to the advancement of healthcare solutions and medical breakthroughs

Indro Mukerjee, Chief Executive of Innovate UK said:  

Innovate UK is building strong regional partnerships across the UK to support local innovation and commercialisation.

Our new Launchpads will help to attract further private sector R&D investment into innovation clusters, growing local economies and delivering societal and economic benefits to local communities.

Welsh Secretary of State David TC Davies said:

It is fantastic that £7.5 million of UK government funding is coming to Southwest Wales to support the growing net zero industry in this part of the country.  There are some really innovative businesses who are already collaborating with each other and researchers to develop industries of the future, and this Launchpad funding will deliver what they need to take their work to the next level.

The UK government is committed to creating jobs and growing prosperity in Wales, and this is exactly the type of intervention that will help to foster a modern 21st century economy  in the Neath Port Talbot area.

UK Government Minister for Scotland, John Lamont said: 

Scotland is a world leader in scientific innovation and research and development across a range of hi-tech sectors.

This funding from the UK government for a Scottish bio-based manufacturing launchpad, connected to the other clusters across the UK, will help boost economic growth and ensure our businesses are at the forefront of sustainable production techniques.

Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker said:

The creation of a Precision Medicine Launchpad in Northern Ireland opens up fantastic opportunities for innovative small and medium healthcare and medical firms to flourish.

This new network of UK government innovation clusters provides the ideal environment for local firms to exchange ideas with experts across the UK, to progress and thrive, and will provide a wealth of economic opportunities.

Notes for editors 

Companies and consortia of innovators located within the regions and actively engaged in the designated sector will be able to bid for a share of the funding from the 23 or 30 October 2023, depending on the location. You can find out more about applying for innovation funding.

The pilot projects 

Tees Valley pilot 

Tees Valley was selected as the location for Net Zero Launchpad with the initial focus of offshore wind, hydrogen production, distribution and usage, and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) within the net zero theme. 

Liverpool City Region pilot 

This pilot focused on the manufacturing sector, with digital technologies and net zero outcomes, building on the local economic strengths, R&D assets, and strategic priorities.

Link: Expert regional innovation hubs given £75 million boost to local research, businesses and economies across UK
Source: Assent Information Services

The UK Space Agency is Unlocking Space for Business

Global satellite services currently support activity that contributes £370 billion to the UK economy, which is around 17.7% of our GDP. As the cost of accessing space continues to fall and the pace of innovation increases, a greater number of businesses now have the opportunity to harness the advantages offered by satellites through enhanced imagery, connectivity and navigation capabilities.  

Unlocking Space for Business is an 18-month programme designed to bring these untapped benefits to hundreds of new organisations across the UK, focused on the leading transport and logistics and financial services sectors. 

Opportunity areas can include using satellite imagery to improve the measurement of climate variables and verification of customer insurance claims after extreme weather events, satellite position and navigation to support location tracking and enabling the movement of people and satellite connectivity to help crew and passengers keep in touch with operators and families on shore. 

Unlocking Space for Business will provide workshops, networking events, learning and development sessions, and online resources to support companies in their understanding of what satellite data and services can mean for them as well as offering the opportunity to bid for a share of up to £6 million UK Space Agency funding later this year to help launch innovative pilot projects, data procurement or partnerships.   

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:  

Unlocking Space for Business will champion the use of space and help tackle barriers facing organisations that have not traditionally used satellite data or services. This will help catalyse further investment into our growing space sector and deliver greater benefits for businesses, people, and the environment. 

This is just one of the ways we’re working to deliver the goal set out in the National Space Strategy to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world, developing new skills and creating jobs.

Satellite data and services have the ability to unlock and deliver new revenue growth opportunities, operational efficiencies, improved customer experiences and ESG benefits for organisations. 

Unlocking Space for Business will connect leading data suppliers, technology integrators, insight providers and end-users to encourage the development and adoption of innovative solutions using satellite data and services. 

Delivery of the project is being supported by PwC, a leader in human-led, tech powered business transformation, and the Satellite Applications Catapult, a leader in bringing space-based services to market. 

Faye Melly, Delivery Partner at PwC, said: 

Businesses today face significant challenges which demand innovative solutions. The to-do list can range from driving operational efficiencies and strengthening customer experience, through to taking action to drive towards Net Zero. In all of these areas space can play a pivotal role.  

Unlocking Space for Business gives UK firms the opportunity to realise the benefits of satellite data and services, and we’re proud and excited to be supporting the delivery of this programme for the UK Space Agency, in partnership with the Satellite Applications Catapult.

Organisations can register their interest to get involved with the project and keep up to date with planned activities including Insight and Networking Events, Exploration Workshops and learning and development sessions ahead of the funding call opening later in the year.  

Lucy Edge, Chief Operating Officer and Acting CEO at the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: 

We’re excited to launch Unlocking Space for Business today. By bringing together key players in the satellite industry, integrators and end users, we’ll make it easier for businesses to access the business-critical data they did not even know was available to them. We’ll also connect companies with government funding sources to test out pilot projects using satellite tech.  

Satellite services drive innovation in all businesses and will boost the bottom line. By building up these partnerships and support systems, we aim to accelerate the adoption of satellite solutions across the private sector.

Unlocking Space for Business is part of the UK Space Agency’s Inspiration Programme, directly delivering the National Space Strategy (NSS) goal to use space to deliver for UK citizens and the world by increasing public awareness of the critical role space-based assets play in our daily lives, emphasising how they can be leveraged to enable business benefits such as improving public services and combating challenges such as the climate emergency.

Link: The UK Space Agency is Unlocking Space for Business
Source: Assent Information Services

Burdensome legislation withdrawn in latest move to cut red tape for businesses

  • Government withdraws draft new reporting regulations following a consultation with businesses on wider reporting regime.
  • New reform package will deliver a more targeted, simpler and effective framework for both business and investors.
  • Announcement welcomed by leading industry voices including the London Stock Exchange, Capital Markets Industry Taskforce, UK Finance, Lloyds and CityUK.
  • Changes will ensure the UK remains one of the best places in the world for firms to list and to do business.

The Government has today [16 October] withdrawn draft regulations after consultation with companies raised concerns about imposing additional reporting requirements.

Instead, the Government will pursue options to reduce the burden of red tape to ensure the UK is one of the best places in the world to do business.

Draft regulations published in July would have added certain additional corporate and company reporting requirements to large UK listed and private companies, including an annual resilience statement, distributable profits figure, material fraud statement and triennial audit and assurance policy statement.

This would have incurred additional costs for companies by requiring them to include additional layers of corporate information in their annual reports.

Since July, the Government has completed a call for evidence on existing non-financial reporting requirements, which has identified a strong appetite from businesses and investors for reform, including to simplify and streamline existing reporting.

The Business Secretary has now decided to withdraw these regulations, and will be setting out options to reform the wider framework shortly to reduce the burden of red tape on businesses.

The Government remains committed to wider audit and corporate governance reform, including establishing a new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority to replace the existing Financial Reporting Council. We will bring forward legislation to deliver these reforms when Parliamentary time allows.

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

Since the Government first published these draft regulations in July, discussions with businesses and stakeholders have highlighted a strong appetite for existing reporting requirements to be simplified.

The Government has decided not to implement the draft regulations at this time, while we continue at pace with our plans to reform the wider non-financial reporting framework.

This will deliver a more targeted, simpler and effective framework for both business and investors, reinforcing that the UK is one of the best places in the world for firms to list and to do business.

This move will form part of a wider package of reform from the Government to streamline and simplify regulation for businesses.

It also builds on the 12-week call for evidence launched earlier this month to carry out an in-depth review of all regulators across the UK, in a campaign to bring about smarter regulation and make companies’ lives easier.

Julia Hoggett, CEO, London Stock Exchange plc, said:

This is a welcome step and will boost the competitiveness of the UK. Good corporate governance should be an enabler for companies to grow and reach their full potential in the interests of all stakeholders. However, founders, company boards and, increasingly, shareholders have highlighted that the UK’s approach of ever-increasing corporate governance processes has, however well-intentioned, impacted the effectiveness of listed companies and the standing of the UK over other capital markets.

Releasing listed companies from the additional reporting burdens that were proposed is another step toward the level playing field UK companies need to compete and drive the growth economy to the benefit of all stakeholders. If companies are to have the certainty they need, it is vital that this reform and steps to enhance the competitiveness of the UK, are backed by political consensus.

The Capital Markets Industry Taskforce said: 

This decision is an important sign that the Government does listen to business and that the Business Secretary is prepared to remove incremental burdens on business.  

We are committed to continuing to work with the Government on more steps to ensure the UK remains a competitive environment for business and investment, including in the area of corporate governance.

David Postings, CEO, UK Finance, said:

I welcome the news that the Department for Business and Trade has listened to feedback and withdrawn these regulations. 

This is an important step in terms of making the UK an attractive place for businesses to grow and list. The government now has the opportunity to make further reforms to create a simpler, streamlined and more effective reporting and corporate governance regime.

Burkhard Keese, Chief Financial Officer, Lloyd’s said:

Lloyd’s appreciates the close and productive engagement we have had with Government on corporate governance reform.

We welcome this first step that the government is taking to ensure that the UK has a proportionate and competitive corporate governance framework and look forward to ongoing collaboration as its work continues in this area.

Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK:

The government’s decision to withdraw this proposal is a significant step which will reaffirm the UK’s reputation as a business-friendly destination.

We welcome the government’s support for fostering a growth environment in the UK and our industry remains committed to working with the public sector to increase the attractiveness of the UK as a public equity listing market and to send a strong signal globally that the UK is an ideal destination for business and investment.

Notes to editors

  • The draft Companies (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 were laid in Parliament on 19th July and withdrawn today. They would have introduced certain new reporting requirements on risk and dividend affordability, as part of the Government’s planned reforms of audit and corporate governance, published in May 2022.
  • The Government is carrying out a Review of Non-Financial Reporting as part of its wider work on Smarter Regulation. A Call for Evidence closed on 16th August, and Ministers are considering reform options in light of that.

Link: Burdensome legislation withdrawn in latest move to cut red tape for businesses
Source: Assent Information Services