In an article written this week for The New European, a new newspaper launched post-Brexit, Sir Richard set out five key points that need to be addressed to rebuild confidence in the UK economy.  He puts supporting entrepreneurs at the heart of his comments and we fully support his plan for action. We couldn't agree more that entrepreneurs and small businesses are the key to Britain’s economy continuing to thrive. Read the points and our comments on them below. 

Point 1 – Export relations

The government needs to outline what the future trading relations will look like to help stop uncertainty for small businesses looking to export or import.

Sir Richard Branson: “It is vitally important that UK business has some idea of how it will be able to trade with its closest trading partners and not slip back to the time before the 1970s when the UK was restricted by high tariffs and taxes. I started Virgin when we had to pay heavy import and export duties, and it made it harder to expand.”

Point 2 – Talent attraction

Some of the best startups in the UK were built by foreign nationals deciding to work here, and in order for UK startups to compete with big corporates they needs to be able to hire the best talent available. That means giving them more options by ensuring EU nationals working and living in the UK right now are able to carry on.

Sir Richard Branson:  “There are roughly 3 million EU nationals in the UK and many have helped create and build businesses. Losing such a talent pool would have a major impact on business prospects. Part of the UK’s great success over the last few decades has been the ability to attract talent from all over the world; it must not close its borders to this.

Point 3 – Improve the rail networks

From the toe of England to the tip of Scotland, entrepreneurship in the UK is thriving. Creating better links between our cities will help small businesses to collaborate, expand and spread ideas. The Government needs to continue to focus on infrastructure projects that were part of the last Prime Minister’s manifesto to help entrepreneurs.

Sir Richard Branson: “The country’s railway infrastructure is in need of upgrade and investment to cope with the growing passenger numbers and to connect the major cities in a reliable and fast way. At Virgin we have long argued that the investment in High Speed Rail needs to be planned in conjunction with upgrades to the major classic lines.”

Point 4 – Build a new runway so that small businesses  can benefit too

There’s an ever-growing appetite for British products and services all over the globe. Being based in the UK gives you a free and effective marketing slogan, ‘Made in Britain.’ The Government needs to expand our airports to increase opportunities for building new trading relationships so startups can continue to grow brand Great Britain.

Sir Richard Branson: “Our current airports in London are at full capacity and in desperate need of a new runway to compete with the nearest rivals in Europe and the growing connectivity of the Middle East airports. The decision to build a new runway at Heathrow has been delayed by successive Governments and I have strongly argued that a decision needs to be made soon, or the UK economy will be held back for decades to come.”

Point 5 – Expand the Start Up Loans scheme

The Start Up Loans scheme backed by the government, of which we are a Delivery Partner, is having a massive positive impact on the  startups of the UK, helping thousands of people to turn their ideas into a reality. The benefits of this scheme have already been proven and now it’s time to take it one step further. Many businesses that have been trading for a few years need an injection of cash and mentoring to take their business to the next level. The Start Up Loans scheme should be expanded to provide follow-on funding.

Sir Richard Branson: “Lastly, I would look to continue and build on the success of David Cameron’s Start-Up Loan scheme – which encouraged entrepreneurs to start new businesses with small Government-backed loans of up to £25,000. Last year the scheme helped more than 13,000 companies get off the ground.

Three years on, I would go further and argue that the Chancellor should look to fill the funding gap that many growing startups need with follow-on financing – helping the successful ones fund that first big order, open a new shop, or hire the next few employees. At times of economic uncertainty, this Government support would help to maintain the momentum."