New Times,
New Thinking.

In challenging times, small businesses must thrive – not just survive

From help with energy costs to start up loans, the government is supporting SMEs.

By Kevin Hollinrake

It’s no understatement to say that these are tough times for small businesses. Global economic headwinds following the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have blown rising inflation, interest rates and energy bills through the door of many businesses.

Just a few months after opening my own business in 1992, Black Wednesday led interest rates to skyrocket overnight. I know first-hand the struggle and the challenges of running a business in a financial crisis and the sleepless nights worrying about how you’ll keep afloat.

But I also know the feelings of freedom and accomplishment that come from being a small business owner and the difference that you make to your local community. That’s why, as small business minister, my ambition is to see our businesses not just survive in these challenging times but thrive – delivering on our promise to grow our economy and create good jobs across the country.

We knew that we had to prioritise shielding businesses from high running and energy costs to protect jobs and allow them the space to grow and succeed. That’s why we put in place our Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which means businesses had to pay less than half the predicted wholesale cost of energy over the winter.

[See also: Labour has the ear of small business – let’s prove we can deliver]

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

The Chancellor also announced a £13.6bn package of support for business rate payers, including the £500m Supporting Small Business scheme, which caps bill increases over the next three years at £50 per month for an estimated 80,000 small businesses.

The government has always been a champion for business right across the country, which is why since 2010 we’ve seen one million new businesses contributing to the economy. But we need the right environment for those firms to thrive. Innovation is key to our growth, which is why the new enhanced tax credits for research and development (R&D) by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will help catalyse new breakthroughs.

For parents starting new families, the path back into work after the birth of a child has been a challenge. The Budget featured major reforms to the childcare sector. This will enable more parents to get back into work, boost productivity for all businesses and provide more education to the next generation.

We want small businesses to feel empowered to grow. In this vein, we are working hard to better support British Scale-Ups, including in areas such as access to finance, bolstering advice and support, and removing barriers to growth.

Prospective entrepreneurs, for example, have access to the Start Up Loans programme offered by the government-owned British Business Bank.

Those further along in their business journey have access to our Help to Grow management scheme, which provides training, expertise and mentoring from leading national business figures.

We’re also stepping up our support for SMEs looking to begin their export journey, and our recent trade agreements with Japan, Australia and New Zealand have included dedicated small and medium-sized business chapters for the first time.

While we pursue economic growth, we’re not blind to the fact that practical problems remain. We’re hot on the issues that really matter to businesses, such as dealing with the burden of late payments.

These impact cash flow and hinder business growth, so I am pleased to be leading the Payment and Cash Flow Review to gather insight and see what our next steps in government should be to tackle this important issue.

Small businesses are the beating heart of our high streets, towns and communities, and this government will never stop championing them.

This article appeared in the Spotlight special policy supplement on the cost-of-living crisis. To read the full report click here.

[See also: Small businesses need support to make the most of Net Zero]

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change