The post-crash entrepreneurial revolution has changed Britain: I want MPs to spur it on further

 
Alan Mak
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The rise in self-employment and startup rates since the crisis is more of a trend than a blip (Source: Getty)

Today we are launching the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Entrepreneurship in the House of Commons. This cross-party group of MPs will act as a bridge between entrepreneurs and policy-makers, “making sure the voice of entrepreneurs is heard loud and clear in Parliament,” as business secretary Sajid Javid MP will say at the launch event this afternoon.

One way we will do this is through regular surveys of entrepreneurs to uncover their policy views and knowledge, which will be led by The Entrepreneurs Network – our Secretariat. But in the first 12 months, we will also focus on four key areas of policy: tax reform, exporting, enterprise education, and female entrepreneurship.

The UK already has a competitive tax regime. A 20 per cent corporation tax rate, innovative Enterprise Investment Schemes, Venture Capital Trusts and Entrepreneurs’ Relief show the world that Britain is open for entrepreneurs and investors. But we can’t rest on our laurels. We want the APPG to investigate whether there are changes that can be made to improve the current regime.

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UKTI is focusing its efforts on its Exporting is GREAT strategy in an effort to strengthen our position as a great trading nation. Its live export opportunities platform helps unlock the world for business owners, but the APPG will aim to get to the bottom of why some businesses don’t want to make the exporting leap. Not every entrepreneur is ready to sell abroad, but there is no getting around the fact that we should be exporting more.

It’s not just a truism to say the world is changing more quickly than ever; it’s a reality for everyone in modern Britain. The job for life is already dead and young people need to be equipped with the skills to adapt to the modern working environment. For many, this will include the skills to work for themselves. When self employment spiked following the 2008 crash, some thought it was a temporary blip based on necessity. However, that figure of 12 per cent has since opened up to 16 per cent – it’s not so much a blip as a trend.

There are already great organisations out there inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs – Founders4Schools, MyBnk Back My Business, Young Enterprise’s Fiver and Tenner Challenge, the Mosaic Challenge, the National Enterprise Challenge, Tycoon in Schools, and the School Enterprise Challenge are just a few great examples – but we want this APPG to identify any gaps. We won’t open up this line of enquiry with any preconceived notion of how hard or soft these skills gaps are – but we will call on experts and entrepreneurs to educate parliamentarians about what we need.

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The world is a better place than ever. Before 1918, women weren’t even allowed to vote, but in 2016 we have female entrepreneurs every bit as impressive as their male counterparts. At today’s launch, Parliamentarians from both Houses will rub shoulders with entrepreneurs like finnCap’s Sam Smith, Advanced Computer Software Group’s Vin Murria, Buddi’s Sara Murray and Decoded’s Kathryn Parsons.

With the help of Female Founders Forum and other groups supporting female entrepreneurs, we want to uncover why too few female-led businesses scale. According to data from Beauhurst, out of 1,422 publicly announced equity investment deals last year, just 164 (12 per cent) were with companies with at least one female founder, equating to £359m (8 per cent) of the £4.23bn total investment. We should mind this particular gap.

Our entrepreneurs are key to sustaining Britain’s economic growth, and I’m confident that our new Parliamentary group can provide them with the support they deserve, in Westminster and beyond.

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