SMEs in Scotland

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 19th March 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Scotland on support for small and medium-sized enterprises in Scotland.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

We have regular discussions with our ministerial colleagues on this matter, and most recently on the £260 million borderlands growth deal announced by the Chancellor in the spring statement. Our industrial strategy sets out our ambition to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business, and central to that is our ongoing commitment to the British Business Bank, which supported £467 million of finance to more than 3,600 Scottish businesses in 2017-18.

Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I thank the Minister for his response. He will be aware of the importance of banking services to small businesses, particularly in rural and more fragile areas, and the closure of banks has hit many of these small businesses hard, not least in East Neuk in my own constituency. What action is he taking to look at, for example, increasing transaction remuneration to post offices, which are increasingly important to those businesses?

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

I understand from the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend Kelly Tolhurst, that she is currently negotiating the banking framework. I also want to set out the support that the British Business Bank gives to start-up businesses: 3,200 businesses have received £22 million in funding in recent years. We have 48,000 more businesses in Scotland compared with 2010. That is good news, and we need to make sure that we continue to support businesses, particularly the rural ones the hon. Gentleman mentions.