SMEs form the cornerstone of our economy

  • Angela Eagle MP

    “It is Government’s responsibility to create an environment where SMEs can flourish. This means building the vital infrastructure we need to connect businesses”

Commentary by Angela Eagle MP, Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

The dynamism of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is critical to the success of the UK economy. Representing over 99% of UK businesses, they provide 60% of private sector jobs and account for almost 50% of all private sector turnover.

Our SMEs drive up growth and provide high-skilled jobs across the country, and together they form the cornerstone of a vibrant, twenty-first century economy.

The 1,000 companies featured in this book are a testament to the ambition and creativity of entrepreneurs in the UK. I would like to congratulate each and every one of them on their success, and I would also like to express my admiration for the invaluable work carried out by the London Stock Exchange Group in compiling the report.

It is government’s responsibility to create an environment where SMEs can flourish. This means building the vital infrastructure we need to connect businesses across the country. It means investing in research and development to equip the next generation with skills for the future. And it means devising a dynamic industrial strategy, which supports our world-leading industries to strengthen further still.

We have seen welcome progress in recent years. But the UK still lags behind when it comes to skills, infrastructure and productivity. The productivity gap between us and other members of the G7 is at its largest since 1991, and in a recent report, the Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded its forecasts for productivity growth for the rest of the Parliament.

Our country needs a culture of long-termism both in government and business to foster a more productive economy, where businesses generate more of the high-skilled, better-paid jobs of the future.

The Labour Party has launched a consultation on how effective tax reliefs are in incentivising business to invest, because we are committed to ensuring that business incentives really do encourage investment and companies to deliver their intended outcomes.

We also need to see more women in industry, an increase in the number of women entrepreneurs and larger numbers of women going into science, technology and engineering. Boosting female entrepreneurship could add an extra £60bn to the UK economy.

We simply have to make the most of women’s talent and abilities, if we are to reach our full potential.

I am here to work with businesses, to listen and engage; because I know that the needs of businesses are our country’s needs.

We are still a fairly new Parliament, with a new team in place. This affords us the opportunity to step back and survey the horizon and to develop policy that will help our country win in the race to the top and help businesses in the decades to come.

It is clear from this report that there is considerable strength and diversity across the spectrum in our small and medium-sized businesses. The companies in this publication represent 1,000 different success stories – and I hope that they act as inspirational examples to the entrepreneurs of the future.