Posted: Thu 5th Jan 2012
****It has to be a good sign that in his first public outing of the year, the Prime Minister decided to host a small business Q&A supported by StartUp Britain. The Q&A took place this morning at Intuit offices in Maidenhead. Here are some of the questions raised and answers offered. Q: What are the key things the government is doing to help small business? A: The Government sees its role as to simplify; to make it easier for people to start and grow a business. That means a commitment to helping on tax, employment, regulation and finance. It's also important that small business owners have confidence in the economy to make investment decisions and that's also a key focus - to create the confidence required to keep the economy motoring. Q: What is the government doing to encourage manufacturing to happen in the UK so business owners can come up with ideas and make the products and services here? A: The government has introduced The Patent Box (click here for article on the topic from Richard Tyler) to offer tax relief to companies with patents and moving into production. This is expected to be introduced from 2013. (This question was followed up by one from Paul Lindley of Ella's Kitchen on how tax relief for trademarks could also help fast growth businesses such as his and was something the PM promised to explore.) Q: What is the Government doing to help British companies bid for work from the British government? A: There should be more open procurement and the government should act like a business itself by working closely with small businesses as possible suppliers; advising you on when new contracts are coming up and offering advice on how to procure. This is something actively being looked at. Q: How can Local Authorities be 'nudged' to work more closely with their local businesses? A: Many Local Authorities benefit from having very good small business advisers in their departments but Local Authorities are not currently incentivised to support small business as they don't keep any extra money generated from businesses doing well. The government is changing this. Q: As the Student Loans Company offers funding to young people to study, could there be an equivalent for young people wanting to start a business? A: Watch this space! With thanks to all who attended this morning; entrepreneurs, advisers and service providers, for what was a constructive start to the StartUp Britain calendar and small business year! Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation and co-founder of StartUp Britain.