Thursday, 27 September 2012

West Briton Column 27 September 2012

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of welcoming members of the Mid Cornwall Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to the House of Commons. It is always a pleasure to see individuals and groups from Cornwall in Parliament, and is an excellent way in which I can keep in touch with local views and concerns when parliamentary business keeps from my constituency.

On this occasion I was able to listen to FSB members detail the challenges their businesses currently face, ranging from difficulties accessing business loans to the commercial strangulation by too much red tape.

These are concerns I have heard again and again from local business people since my election, and concerns that I have continually pressed the Government to address. Two years on, I am pleased to say that some progress is being made.

The Funding for Lending Scheme has been introduced to give small businesses better access to finance; under the scheme banks have been given a strong incentive to increase the availability of business loans and mortgages. The National Loan Guarantee Scheme complements this increase in lending by driving down the costs of the loans offered to businesses; since March this year over 16,000 small business have benefited from the cheaper loans secured by the scheme.

Meanwhile the costs that excessive red tape imposes upon businesses are also being tackled. Minsters across Government are signed up the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ which has seen hundred of unnecessary regulations scrapped over the past year. The Challenge continues, you can learn more and suggest regulations to scrap by visiting

However I am concerned that much this excellent work to support small businesses could be compromised by suggestions that this summer’s temporary relaxation of Sunday Trading Laws could be made permanent. I oppose this for many reasons and believe that it would have a real impact on small independent retailers, who in the past few months have experienced an average 20% drop in sales as shoppers have taken advantage of supermarkets’ newly-extended Sunday opening hours.  The Government has stated that, whilst it will look at any benefits the change could bring, it has no plans to extend the relaxation of Sunday Trading Laws beyond this Summer. I doing all I can to hold Ministers to this commitment and am keeping a careful eye on the situation.

I am also working to promote the range of advice and support that is now available to small businesses.  The FSB visit to Parliament marked the launch of a business directory that I have been working on with Federation members, detailing the organisations and schemes that can provide useful help, advice and support to small businesses. Copies of this directory can be obtained by visiting my website or by calling my office on 1872 274 760. 

In Truro and Falmouth we are blessed with some outstanding independent  businesses, providing quality goods and services to their customers.  Ensuring that these local businesses have the support they need to thrive and grow remains a top priority for me.

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