How can we unlock the potential of small businesses in Gower? The UK Government must improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises.
If you visit any part of our constituency you will know how important small businesses are in making Gower a unique and vibrant place to live, work, and visit.
99% of companies in the UK are classed as small but SMEs across the country face a £22bn funding gap and the APPG on Fair Business Banking’s recent inquiry found SMEs are reporting significant problems in accessing finance.
Findings by the Industry Strategy Council reveal the UK is the most regionally imbalanced country in Europe when it comes to the productivity of its economies and the consequences of how this affects livelihoods can be seen in the disparity of opportunities across our city centres, our high streets and in our communities.
This is especially apparent in south west Wales, where the lack of investment in our infrastructure by UK Government on much needed improvements such rail electrification has put our small and medium sized businesses at an even greater disadvantage.
Finance is too concentrated in London and the South East and the UK’s current financial system – which has historically been dominated by four large shareholder driven banks – is not fit for purpose in helping to address this issue.
The APPG on Fair Business Banking has published their ‘Scale Up to Level Up’ report which has put forward several recommendations to redress the regional imbalance including investing in regionally based Community Development Financial Institutions and Regional Mutual Banks which can lend directly to local businesses.
Thankfully the Welsh Government is already taking innovative steps like this to support SMEs. The Welsh Labour knows when Welsh businesses are strong, Wales is strong. The Development Bank of Wales was set up in 2017 by the Welsh Government to provide flexible funding from £1,000 to £5 million to small businesses in Wales.
Over the next five years it’s hoped the bank will have a billion-pound impact on the Welsh economy, support 1,400 Welsh businesses and for those businesses to create and safeguard more than 20,000 jobs.
Wales is already setting an example on how local led investment can work. The UK Government must listen to what they are being told and not shy away from taking decisive action. Our small businesses need their support.