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Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Dear Members of Parliament, Peers and Friends of the APPG for Entrepreneurship,

For centuries humans have looked to January as a source of renewal and, for entrepreneurs, 2019 began on an upbeat note: research from eBay found that over three-quarters of British entrepreneurs between 18 and 34 felt positive about their chance of growing their business in 2019; figures from the Booksellers Association showed that the number of independent bookstores on our high streets grew for the second year running in 2018; and a KPMG Enterprise study revealed that, over the course of 2018, 31.5 per cent (or $7.7bn) of VC investment in Europe went to UK startups.
 
This is only part of the picture, however. On Monday, a report from the British Business Bank showed that female startup founders are missing out on billions of pounds of investment. Just 11 per cent of firms with at least one female founder received investment, and those with an all-female leadership team received just 1p in every pound. Ensuring female entrepreneurs get the finance to scale is fundamental – to both the economy and our society.
 
Also, a report from The Entrepreneurs Network and Association of Business Executives, launched in the Houses of Parliament with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kelly Tolhurst MP, found that while the rate of business startup creation is cause for celebration, downstream as many as 56 per cent of these new firms collapse within five years. “Too often viable companies fail due to bad management even when the fundamental idea behind the business is sound,” author Sam Dumitriu writes. He recommends practical reforms to ensure businesses are better managed, thereby creating more jobs, paying higher wages and selling better products.

In Parliament

Inspiring and supporting young entrepreneurs dominated Parliamentary discussions around entrepreneurship last month. During a Youth Entrepreneurship debate in the House of Commons, BEIS and Education Minister Chris Skidmore MP (Con) pointed to the 390,000 businesses currently being started by 18 to 24 year olds in the UK, and to the £52m in startup loans that have been provided to young people since 2012. In December 2018, the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation added, his department launched a youth engagement programme, including a celebration of UK STEM projects and an industrial strategy competition to inspire 13-19 year olds.
 
But Jeremy Lefroy (Con) expressed concern that entrepreneurship and life skills have yet to be embedded in the school curriculum – a sentiment shared by Vernon Coaker (Lab), who suggested vocational education is “seen as second rate”. Skidmore replied that the Augur review will look at post-18 education, while T-levels will soon be operational.
 
And during Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Topical Questions, Skidmore was asked about boosting technical skills among the young (“I take this opportunity to mention the new year-long youth industrial strategy competition at the industrial strategy fair…in March this year,” he said).

In the same debate, Martin Docherty-Hughes (SNP) outlined that the Scottish Government’s draft 2018-19 budget means 90 per cent of firms will pay lower rates than those based anywhere else in the UK. “Why will the Secretary of State…not support Scottish industry and back the call from the SNP and the Institute of Directors…for a £750 million SME Brexit advice service?” he asked.

And Marion Fellows (SNP) raised the issue of late payment, calling for larger businesses to pay in 30 days and implementing a penalty regime. Kelly Tolhurst MP (Con) replied that government is reviewing the evidence presented. “The small business commissioner has delivered £2m of collections for small businesses over the first year in his position. We will continue to work to ensure that small businesses get the payments they need when they should,” the BEIS Minister said.
 
Lastly, while debating the Trade Bill on 21 January in the Lords, Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab) raised some interesting points around SME (defence) procurement. "It may be impossible or expensive in terms of the risks for our soldiers and other servicemen and servicewomen if we insist on a particular quota of procurement from small businesses. We should first of all decide what is necessary to procure...then we should procure it. We should hope that as a result SMEs have as large a part as possible...but we should not take any risks to meet some arbitrary quota," he said.

And Elsewhere... In a speech to farmers, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the world was now on the cusp of a “Fourth Agricultural Revolution,” prompted by technological advances in AI, Big Data, drones, machine learning and robotics, all of which he said opened up opportunities for greater efficiency and improved environmental sustainability across the farming industry. Innovate UK caught up with former participants of its Ideas Mean Business Competition. “Since receiving the funding and support, the young entrepreneurs have enjoyed a successful six months,” it said. And in the warmer climes of Mozambique, DfID minister Harriett Baldwin MP (Con) tweeted about “celebrating female entrepreneurship”.

Upcoming Events

In the Commons

Oral Questions
International Trade (including Topical Questions)
Thursday, 7th February, 9.30am
Main Chamber

Business Statement: 
Business Questions to the Leader of the House – Andrea Leadsom
Thursday, 7th February, from 10am
Main Chamber

Oral Questions
Women and Equalities (including Topical Questions)
Thursday, 7th February, 10am
Main Chamber

Private Members' Bills
Value Added Tax Bill: Second Reading – Sir Christopher Chope 
Friday, 8th February
Main Chamber

Private Members' Bills

Energy Consumption (Innovative Technologies) Bill: Second Reading (Rebecca Pow)
Friday, 8th February
Main Chamber

Private Members' Bills

Housing Reform Bill: Second Reading – Richard Bacon
Friday, 8th February
Main Chamber

Oral Questions
Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)
Monday, 11th February, 2.30pm
Main Chamber

Second Delegated Legislation Committee
Draft Intellectual Property (Copyright and Related Rights) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018
Monday, 11th February, 4.30pm

Room 6, Palace of Westminster

Oral Questions
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Tuesday, 12th February, 11.30am
Main Chamber

Business Statement: 
Business Questions to the Leader of the House – Andrea Leadsom
Thursday, 14th February, 9.30am
Main Chamber

In the Lords

Orders and Regulations
Intellectual Property (Exhaustion of Rights) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 – Lord Henley
Wednesday, 6th February, from 3pm
Main Chamber

Oral Questions:
Findings in the Small Business Index published by the Federation of Small Businesses on 21st January – Lord Harrison
Monday, 18th February, from 2.30pm
Main Chamber

Oral Questions:
Review of the "check, challenge, appeal" system for business rate appeals – Lord Naseby
Monday, 25th February, from 2.30pm
Main Chamber

Science and Technology Committee (Lords) – Oral Evidence Session 
Tuesday, 5th March, 3.15pm
Room 4A, Palace of Westminster

Kind regards,
Annabel 
Annabel Denham
Coordinator, APPG for Entrepreneurship
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