We recently took a group of entrepreneurs from the North of England to 10 Downing Street to meet Niamh Mulholland, business engagement manager in the prime minister's office.
The meeting was led by Ben Hawley, Enterprise Nation's head of the north.
Alongside Ben was:
- Alan Hibbert, Buxton Pudding Co
- Matt Hill, Union Street
- Bridget McKone, TEK Marketing
- David Hughes, Acorn Brewery
- Sophie Jewett, York Cocoa House
- Tristan Cowell, IC Innovations
- Joe Carnell, UGOT
- Sally Clark, Hatfield Clark
- Kerri Hull, Teach You
- Victoria Tomlinson, Northern Lights PR
- Tracey Johnson, Barnsley Digital Media Centre
- Hector Kolonas, Included
- Darren Padget, Team Activ
- John Sanderson, Pitstop Productions
- Ryan Osborne, Osborne Technologies
- Charlotte Scothern, Patchwork Pig
- Rachel Johns, Made in the Valley and The Egg Factory
- Joada Allen-Booth, Visualised IT
- Andonette Wilkinson, CreativJam
- Peter Wright, Digital Law UK
Darren Padget said the government needs to ensure we're not forgetting how to teach children to be entrepreneurial.
"Italians in Milan are drinking our bitter from Barnsley", said David Hughes. But he is reluctant to grow as he has to pay more duty. He called for the Treasury to consider a review of Progressive Beer Duty.
Peter Wright said businesses can't afford compliance so suggested that could there be a programme of digital vouchers to subsidise costs.
PR professional Victoria Tomlinson said the BBC should have a better understanding of business and asked whether the government can do anything about it and improve the image of how business is presented.
Joe Carnell asked whether the the money from the new sugar tax could go into giving rates relief for brands like his that offer low sugar alternatives
Hector Kolonas called on the government to offer a subsidy to help small businesses get into shared workspaces.
Tristan Cowell praised regional growth funding using which he bought his new office building.
Sophie Jewett said there was a lack of business support.
Sally Clark called for childcare expenses to be made tax deductible as a business expense.
Charlotte Scothern has benefited from Mary Portas Towns funding but referenced the difficulty of getting a mortgage and asked the government to call on the mortgage industry to make it easier for self employed.
Joada Allen-Both gave thanks to all the public sector programmes from which she has benefited but said there are lots of gaps as they stop and start.
Bridget McKone said her business is growing through Power Mums who work in between school hours. She asked if the government could shine a spotlight on them.
Rachel Johns is looking to plug in business support and mentoring into her company space, which could be helped by a programme such as Growth Vouchers.
Kerri Hull called on the government to endorse the creation of e-learning courses for starting and growing a business. It would deliver accredited qualifications for running a business which would be then used to get a mortgage etc.
Tracey Johnson said public sector bodies should be directing businesses to private sector providers.
John Sanderson asked whether the tax relief that's given to games developers could be extended to their service providers.
Matt Hill said due to the rising problem of empty properties on high streets the previous government allowed short term pop-ups and charitable companies to offer rates savings to landlords with empty buildings which lowered the barriers to accessing property and created innovative new pop-up projects. However, many landlords now simply store a few boxes owned by charities in their empty properties, resulting in them having no interest in the changes leaving many properties empty. Hill called on the government to update guidance and make it clear that companies falsifying occupation are committing fraud, and to claim rates savings, actual occupation is required.
Ben Hawley, Enterprise Nation's head of the north, said: "Being able to take these companies from across the North of England to Number 10 really shows that Enterprise Nation has a commitment to helping businesses from all over the country.
"The businesses that came down with us all had input on the meeting and really found the experience beneficial. More than one of the business owners have contacted me since the trip to say it really has inspired them to drive their company forward, and it seems that connections made at the event are already starting to bare fruit."