06 DEC 2018

Business Brexit Pragmatism

Building upon my support for our High Street businesses in my previous column, I continue the theme following 'Small Business Saturday' last weekend. The initiative is a great platform for public recognition of the contribution small businesses make to our economy, employment and society.

We have a magnificent array in this diverse rural and urban constituency; from the manufacturers and distributors on Pattenden Lane in Marden, to our fruit growing and packaging industry across the Low Weald, and to the creative and professional firms in Maidstone Town.

Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2017 and 99.9% were small or medium-sized, providing 60% of all private sector employment in the UK.

Unarguably small businesses provide livelihoods for families across our country and contribute significantly to our national coffers through taxes and rates, funding our schools and hospitals. Their fortunes should really matter to all of us and I remember with fondness my many years as a business owner and an employer before becoming the Member for Maidstone & The Weald.

I am therefore pleased that the Government is recognising the needs of small businesses by cutting corporation tax, reforming business rates and investing in much needed research and development. I recently met with a range of local employers at a Barclays business breakfast who all welcomed these measures and I was also struck by their overwhelmingly pragmatic approach to Brexit; ready to make a success of it and trying to plan for all eventualities in the face of persistent uncertainty.

The outcome of Brexit is particularly crucial here in Kent, a frontier county where so many rely on the continuity of cross-channel co-operation. After two and a half years of negotiation we will soon have a better idea of our direction of travel and, whatever that is, the uncertainty will diminish and long-term planning can commence.

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