With the creation of the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, we’ve been on tenterhooks to see who’ll be representing the interests of the UK’s small businesses in parliament. Margot James has been announced as the new Minister for Small Business – but who is our new minister, and what does she stand for?
Margot James has been an MP for Stourbridge since 2010. Before that she was an entrepreneur, co-founding clinical trial and PR consultancy Shire Health Group, selling this business in 2004 after 20 years. She sat on the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee between 2010 and 2012.
Following this she served as the parliamentary private secretary to Lord Green, the minister for trade and investment, setting up the parliamentary group for trade and investment. One of the group’s aims was to connect with and support SMEs in growing and exporting.
Margot James sits on the court of governors at the London Stock Exchange, and she has also been a mentor for The Prince’s Trust and Young Enterprise.
Causes and beliefs
A campaigner for the Remain camp in the EU referendum, Margot James has previously spoken out in favour of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a major series of trade negotiations between the US and the EU, believing it is an opportunity for ‘growth on both sides of the Atlantic’.
She supports the reduction of business rates, even going as far as to send Freedom of Information requests to every local authority and asking them whether they were using their powers to reduce business rates.
She is a particular supporter of the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), which provides funding and support to those on benefits who would like to start a business. 2,000 new businesses have started up in her constituency of Stourbridge since 2010, and she credits the initiative with being a major help.
The VSU verdict
It’s great to see a Minister for Small Business with solid entrepreneurial experience, and who also clearly has a passion for supporting startups to export and thrive. Investigating whether local authorities were reducing business rates is impressive dedication, and should be welcome news to the 100,000 small businesses demanding a cut in business rates post-Brexit.
At Virgin StartUp we’re huge believers in the power of mentoring, so it’s also heartening to see the appointment of a Minister who also has mentoring experience, especially that of supporting new businesses.
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