Growth. The political buzzword of the moment. For some, it may seem like an academic discussion reserved for economists, politicians, and policy wonks. For those of us supporting entrepreneurship and the free market, we need to put a better case for why it is so important for the future of our everyday lives. Economic growth means more jobs, more money for hardworking families, greater tax revenues to pay for improved public services, and greater financial security for us all.
Too often, when discussing growth, the focus is on the big economic issues neglecting the importance of small, local businesses. We must focus on how growing small businesses benefit both our local and national economies.
Small businesses are commonly the lifeblood of our local communities, whether that is always acknowledged or not. Often family-owned, employing local people – often with a loyal local customer base - that is what makes them the heartbeat of our communities. They can be anything from the small corner shop or post office, the neighbourhood pub to a family-run engineering company on a town industrial estate, and larger multi-site businesses with bases across the UK and beyond. These businesses may vary in size and range across myriad sectors, but they all have something in common: the opportunity to grow. And in doing so create more jobs and boost local economies and our national finances.
Quite rightly, we are proud to be one of the best countries in the world to set up and start a new business. I know because I did it myself. Before entering Parliament, I was fortunate to run our small family business. It’s hard work but it’s also rewarding because you connect so closely with your team and customers. You need that ethos if you are to be successful. That’s why so many small business owners are proud of what they do and of the teams they employ.
So why is it that we allow business owners to be portrayed by left-wing activists as the baddies in our society? Instead, we should celebrate their successes and their central place in driving our country’s economy. We should encourage those with ideas to set up that business. We should encourage those who know they can grow their business to do so. Those businesses can then become the big businesses of tomorrow. Some of the biggest names in housebuilding and construction, for example, from JCB through to Berkeley Homes started as sole traders or small businesses. They are now global success stories employing thousands of people.
The Conservative Party not only needs to champion business we must provide more help for the small business community. Only Conservatives have consistently created a pro-business environment allowing entrepreneurs to flourish. In the post-Brexit world, we can create space for businesses to adapt and innovate within a simple and logical regulatory framework. Like many, I am impatient to see the removal of burdensome bureaucracy from small businesses.
As Northern Ireland Secretary I saw innovative companies, working alongside university research departments, create groundbreaking opportunities within the fields of artificial intelligence, high-tech engineering, medical technology, and quantum computing. Within my Great Yarmouth constituency, I see global players leading the way in the oil, gas, and renewable energy sectors. They will achieve even more if a Conservative government frees them from the expensive and time-consuming shackles of unnecessary regulation. Alongside this, we need to provide real support for investment and growth.
Unleashing a proliferation of small business growth can be the bedrock of a brighter economic future. Where everyone can benefit from exciting new job opportunities and strong, sustainable economic growth.