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FSB members meet MPs for SME debate


FSB members from across the Gloucestershire and West of England area had a chance to put forward a variety of issues and concerns facing SMEs when they met five local MPs at a special meeting in the Houses of Parliament.

The 10 strong FSB team – which included members from Bristol, the Cotswolds, Weston-super-Mare, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Wiltshire – visited Parliament and enjoyed a frank, open and positive discussion as part of our ongoing work with key politicians and stakeholders to keep small business issues firmly on their radar.

The subject of the skills crisis facing many small businesses who are unable to get the staff they need in an increasingly competitive market was one of the dominant issues discussed as was the ongoing issue of problems with the physical and digital infrastructure such as road connectivity and broadband. The FSB members also raised issues about late payments, apprenticeships, the rising cost of running a business and, inevitably, Brexit.

All the MPs present at the meeting – Richard Graham (Gloucester), Chris Skidmore (Kingswood), Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown (Cotswolds),  Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) and David Drew (Stroud) - enthusiastically engaged with FSB members and both asked and answered a lot of questions about the current small business environment during a packed morning of discussion.

The MPs were also particularly pleased to hear that on the day of the visit the FSB had just published its latest quarterly business confidence report which shows that confidence is bouncing back among SMEs – especially in the South West.  

Russell Warner - the FSB’s Gloucestershire area lead who chaired the meeting - said it was a great success and said it led to one particular ‘ask’ for local businesses...

‘’It was great to see the region’s MP discussing and, on the whole, agreeing on the main issues faced by small businesses in the region.  


Pictured above, the FSB team ahead of their meeting with the MPs. Top picture,  the FSB team with local MPs in Parliament

“In particular, they all agreed with the need for the missing link of the A417 at Birdlip to be sorted and we would encourage all businesses to ensure that their own views are heard in the ongoing consultation.  It is important that the business community responds to the consultation so that there is a clear message in the importance of filling this infrastructure gap and the impact it is having on economic growth.”