Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas (pictured centre, right) met with businesses to discuss a range of local, regional and national topics of note.
In her introduction, Caroline said she enjoyed working with FSB, meeting our members and reading our well researched business reports. She answered questions on recycling and business waste, sustainable transport including buses and cycling as well as supporting High Street parades and independent businesses.
An interesting and concerning statistic offered from the group was that whilst Brighton and Hove has the most business start-ups of any City (70 per thousand), it also has one of the highest failure rates (60 per thousand). It was thought that the Coast to Capital Growth Hub, which is a Government funded service, could do more to support smaller businesses in Brighton.
The general view was that it focussed too heavily on ‘scale-up’ and bigger businesses, primarily in the Gatwick Diamond. Martin Searle, the FSB’s Development Manager for Sussex (pictured left) pointed out the FSB’s Business Creation package also offered free business advice as a right of membership, a guide book to starting a business and a tailored benefits package of support.
Further issues raised included the range of funding opportunities available to business and improving knowledge and access to alternatives such as crowd funding. Martin Searle referenced FSB’s funding platform service in the FSB’s Business Essentials benefits package.
On the importance of women entrepreneurs to the economy, it was thought, again, that the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership could do more to bring diversity to our economy by specifically encouraging and supporting women in business.
Regarding the self-employed, Caroline acknowledged she had the briefing paper on FSB’s policy asks of Government and was campaigning in the House for an extension to the Universal Credit minimum income floor from one to two years. This, she agreed, would better enable newly self-employed people to truly get their business off the ground and operational.
The MP roundtable with Caroline Lucas is one of a programme of similar meetings across the south east bringing together members to have their business questions answered and to provide a voice for smaller businesses. Martin Searle, Development Manager, said, “all the MPs we have seen, including Caroline today, have remarked that these meetings are useful to them and a helpful steer for their work in the House of Commons.”