How to help UK business go global
In early November GEWUK put its name to a new letter from the Small Business Task Force, of which it is a founding member. This letter asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take steps to help British businesses to go global and strengthen export connections. Read that letter in full:
The Small Business Taskforce was formed in October 2016 with a single purpose of working with government to ensure the conditions that have ensured the UK’s top place in the entrepreneurial league tables remain in place. Our group is formed from 14 major small business representative organisations and together we represent more than two million small businesses.
One of the key issues we feel needs enlivened support is exporting. There has never been a better time for small British businesses to go global and take their products and services to the world. One in six currently export, but from our day-to-day knowledge of this sector, we know small firms are struggling to get access to the kind of opportunities and expertise offered to larger firms, with deeper pockets. On Wednesday taskforce member, Enterprise Nation, is leading a trade mission of 30 eclectic small British-brands to Hong Kong and China so they can research the market, meet customers, and do sustainable deals collectively worth millions to the British economy. Among them are a Cornish tea plantation, a Wigan logistics firm, a Leatherhead digital agency and a Nottingham underwear manufacturer.
Firms that export are more likely to create sustainable jobs, introduce new products and have higher growth expectations than those that don’t.
We’d like to see the introduction of Export Vouchers or export tax credits for small firms with exporting ambition. Experimenting with initiatives like these would be transformative to small British firms and have a big impact.
In June 2015, Enterprise Nation submitted a paper to the then Trade Minister, Lord Maude, proposing the introduction of Export Vouchers, based on the company’s experience of Growth Vouchers which saw businesses being offered a small subsidy and match funding, to spend on advice to help their business grow. Early results of this programme show businesses that take advice grow faster than those that don’t, and vouchers lead to a change in business culture and behaviour. This was followed by a recommendation for Export Vouchers from Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in a meet with Dr Liam Fox MP in October 2016.
With exporting such an essential behaviour to encourage in small businesses, we believe Export Vouchers are a route to achieving this with a minimum investment of £20 million per annum required to ensure effective uptake and implementation.
If such a programme were to be introduced, we would commit to promoting this to the small businesses and advisers in our networks. We feel there’s never been a more critical time to act with a programme focused on encouraging and supporting British businesses to trade with the world.
Small Business Task Force