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SME Council membership revealed ahead of first meeting

The membership of the new Small Business Council has been unveiled ahead of its first meeting later today, as the Government reaffirms its commitment to the UK’s 5.6 million SMEs.

Chaired by Small Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, the Council will work alongside the PM’s Business Council to tackle the key issues facing small firms who will be given new levels of access direct to government.

Almost every business in the country is a small business (99.9%) who in turn support 27 million jobs across the UK, accounting for £4.5 trillion of annual turnover. Almost every billion-pound company, tech giant or multinational corporation started off as small business, which is why this Council has been formed, to help support and nurture the next generation of small firms to thrive and grow.

The Council will include small business organisations such as Small Business Britain, the Federation of Small Businesses and Family Business UK, as well as SMEs themselves.

These include Northern Ireland based furniture manufacturer Environmental Street Furniture who export to 27 countries globally; Midlands-based diamond drill specialists, D-Drill who have been crucial to major projects on the London Tideway and the Silverstone F1 circuit; and London-based superfood manufacturer Creative Nature who found a gap in the market for allergen products and are now stocked by supermarket giants across the UK.

With firms representing all corners of the UK covering sectors including manufacturing, construction, food and drink, the new council aims to truly represent the makeup of UK industry.

The Council will be a powerful voice for small businesses within Government and has been tasked with overseeing three key areas for small firms – Access to finance, skills and support as well as removing barriers.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

Small firms are at the heart of our communities and the engine of our economy – which is why the work of this council is so important. My own experience of working in a small business has given me crucial insights to the problems that SMEs face on a daily basis, from barriers to growth or access to finance.

We’re giving small firms a big voice, so they can directly air their concerns to government without delay – only when we work together can we tackle some of the burning issues SMEs are facing – only then can we help boost jobs and grow the economy.

FSB Policy Chair Tina McKenzie MBE said:

This new council is important because it will bring what’s happening at the front line of British business, from our 5.5 million small business owners, right into the heart of Government. 

Alongside No.10’s existing corporate Business Council, the new body will shine a light on the unique challenges small firms face on areas such as finance, regulation and skills.  FSB is pleased to join it, and we hope to focus on how to reignite economic growth across our community.

Neil Davy, CEO of Family Business UK, said: 

We are delighted to be part of the new Small Business Council, representing family businesses from across all regions and communities of the UK to highlight the unique challenges they face and the practical new ideas we have for generating economic growth. 

It is great to see this group reflect the different models of business that make up the UK economy. Family firms offer a unique perspective due to their long-term view, and we look forward to working with the Council to deliver support and advice to help SMEs learn, thrive and grow.

Michelle Ovens CBE, Founder of Small Business Britain, said:

The diverse, varied and vibrant British small businesses are at the heart of our economy, society and communities and it is vital they are at the heart of policy too. Their needs and skills are often quite different to bigger businesses, so it’s really important that this new Small Business Council has been launched, to hear their unique perspectives and examine tailored solutions.

We are looking forward to working with Government to help unleash the massive power and potential of small businesses for the UK.

Thomas Robson-Kanu, Founder of The Turmeric Co., said:

Since launching in 2018, The Turmeric Co. has experienced rapid growth, but securing funding and navigating regulations as a purpose-driven SME presented hurdles. I’m eager to share our journey and advocate for solutions that unlock growth for UK’s vibrant businesses. Hurdles can truly make or break a SME, and more support around these will make a world of difference.

Julie White, Managing Director of D-Drill & Sawing, said:

I’m honoured to have been selected to join the new Small Business Council and welcome this opportunity to share my thoughts on what it’s like doing business in the current climate. Everyone knows that trading is tough, and it’s vital that SMEs are given as much support as possible to help them to grow.

Working with business, the Government can help to create the right economic conditions to help us all flourish by ensuring consistent policy, improving procurement and providing support for skills.

The Government is ensuring small firms have the support they need with a £4.3 billion package to support SMEs with business rates and extending the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief for a fifth year, we are helping businesses navigate challenging economic times.

We are also providing the swift and simple access to finance that SMEs need to start and grow, with the British Business Bank having delivered over £1 billion of loans to over 100,000 businesses, and UK Export Finance providing £6.5 billion of support to help businesses export around the world.

In recent weeks, the Government has made a series of announcements to support small business owners. The Lilac Review was jointly unveiled with Small Business Britain – as a major new independent review determined to tackle and overcome the inequality faced by disabled business owners.

And the Help to Grow campaign website has been relaunched and refreshed, as a one-stop shop for SMEs to find the information they need to grow and scale up. This includes helping small firms to clearly identify what funding they can access, helpful webinars as well as the basics of how to set up a business for the first time.

SME Council Members:

Michelle Ovens CBE  Founder/CEO – Small Business Britain 

Neil Davy CEO – Family Business UK

Tina McKenzie MBE – Policy Chair – Federation of Small Businesses 

Emma Heal, MD – Lucky Saint

Thomas Robson Kanu, Founder – The Turmeric Co.

Julianne Ponan MBE CEO – Creative Nature Superfoods

Peter Davies MD – James Lister and Sons

Gary Parlett, Co-founder –  Answer Digital

Tania Boler, Founder – Elvie

Richard Marshall, Founder – Pall Mall Barbers

Elizabeth Vega, CEO – Informed Solutions

Tessa Clarke, Co-founder – Olio

Jordan Schwarzenberger, Co-founder – Arcade Media

Julie White, MD- D-Drill

Mike Bristow, CEO & co-founder – CrowdProperty

Debbie Williams, Co-founder – John Williams Heating Ltd

Roni Savage, MD – Jomas Associates

Andrew Bissell, CEO – Sunamp

Alan Lowry, CEO – Environmental Street Furniture

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