Mr Redwood’s contribution to the debate on the Economy, 11 Dec

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Given the warm welcome in the House, particularly on this side, for all tax freezes and reductions, will my hon. Friend urge those on our Front Bench to do more of that, so that we can get the economy growing more quickly?

Justin Tomlinson (North Swindon) (Con): I thank my right hon. Friend for that important suggestion, which I endorse. We would all welcome such measures being taken whenever possible, given the financial constraints that we inherited.

I also welcome the extra investment in UK Trade & Investment in relation to exports. The Office for Budget Responsibility has recognised the challenges involved in exporting to the eurozone. Honda, the biggest employer in my constituency, has faced challenges in exporting cars to a declining market, although the UK market has experienced an 8.6% increase. We have seen our exports to emerging markets double, however, and the investment through UKTI will make a big difference. I have attended lots of events with the Government and with banks to encourage businesses to consider exporting to those markets, and that extra help to remove barriers will make a big difference.

I want to make a plea for a greater push promoting young entrepreneurs. The Government have launched the £2,500 start-up loans. I have been working with Young Enterprise, Virgin Media Pioneers and the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs. Even the Scouts have a young entrepreneur’s badge now, and my wife and I had a very enjoyable evening helping to judge that. They even offered us free cake and cups of tea to try to influence our decision. I was the only one of the 350 students studying business at my university who went on to run their own business.

I believe that that university education taught any entrepreneurial flair and risk-taking out of us. We need to encourage more young people who have boundless energy and enthusiasm, and enough cheek to question the accepted ways, to find new niche markets.

I have been working with New college and Swindon college in my constituency to try to set up further opportunities for young people. This will involve not only the traditional young enterprise scheme set up in the main foyer in which the students sell to their friends but the opportunity to set up a pitch in the local market. They will have a wooden table and do three days’ trading. If they are not set up by 9 o’clock in the morning, they will lose that day’s trading. Those who are successful will then be offered cheaper pitches in the summer holidays, after they have finished college, and we hope that they will be the next generation of entrepreneurs. Many famous business people, including Lord Sugar, Richard Branson and the founders of Marks & Spencer and the Superdry clothing brand, started on a market stall. If we can get those young people to take that risk, we can create the next wave of jobs, and I encourage the Government to do what they can on that front.

On the banks, we all welcome the fact that we still have record low interest rates. That is due in no small part to the fact that the tough decisions we have taken have protected our triple A credit rating. That has made a huge difference to businesses that are borrowing money and to mortgage holders. However, we still need to do more to encourage access to finance from banks. Whenever I talk to banks, they tell me that they have money and that it is available to borrow. Whenever I talk to businesses, they say that there is no such money. There is clearly a perception problem.

The Government should help to provide information on the funding that is available, whether from the Government, from the banks that say they have money or from the national loans guarantee scheme. I am told time and again that everything possible is being done to communicate such information but that it is difficult to get hold of the businesses that need it. That is not the case, however, because once a year the Government send out a business rates mailer to every business. It might simply say that they do not have to pay anything because the small business rate relief has been extended, but the Government still have to write to them to tell them that. My suggestion is that we should include something in that mailer—we have already paid the postage, so the taxpayer will be no worse off—outlining what funding is available through the banks and through the Government, what opportunities there are to employ and offer opportunities for apprentices and about the business mentor scheme. Some 40,000 business mentors are there to help and I have seen them make a big difference when I met Mentorsme, an organisation that has helped a number of businesses in my constituency. Let us use the business rate mailer to spread the opportunities that are available. Those measures will make a big difference to us all.


  1. Tad Davison
    December 13, 2012

    And so say all of us!

    Well nearly all of us. Those who can see the wood for the trees and can recognise a diminishing market when we see one.

    Good project this EU thingy aint it? Just look how much peace, employment, and prosperity it has delivered!

    One day, the pro-EU fanatics might just realise their folly. Oh look! There goes another flying pig!

    Perhaps they would rather we poured even more money into the black hole in trying to save it from the inevitable implosion.

    Tad Davison


  2. zorro
    December 13, 2012

    The record low interest rates have done nothing for borrowers but have been very helpful to banks…….The banks still continue to call in loans and offer very high rates whilst demanding substantial deposits. He talks about a perception problem…….It is far more deep rooted than that. Perhaps the Minister might call the banks out on what they claim. Why do they insist on providing such unreasonable terms to sound businesses hence them being unable to expand……


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