(1 year, 4 months ago)Read Full debate
I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the British Business Bank has access to the £20 billion investment in the industrial strategy. Through our start-up loan scheme, we have made 57,000 loans, delivering £436 million in finance and creating more than 56,000 jobs. Access to finance has improved a great deal since I became an MP. The hon. Gentleman served on the Committee on which we made invoice financing another option for many small businesses.
The small business sector is thriving. We have 5.7 million small and medium-sized enterprises, and we are ranked in the top 10 in the world for ease of doing business. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Government have taken significant action on business rates in each of the last three Budgets, including £9 billion of support announced in 2016, making sure that nearly two thirds of a million small businesses pay no rates at all.
When the right hon. Gentleman was a Minister in the Business Department, he took part in a decision to defer revaluation, for reasons that he understands. I accept the point—it has been made strongly by the Retail Sector Council—that reflecting the contribution that high street businesses make to their communities is a significant need. As business rates are reviewed, that is one of the council’s recommendations that we will take forward.
Break in Debate
As I have already outlined, we are committed to delivering a postal network that services the needs of our communities. If the hon. Gentleman has concerns relating to particular post offices, will he please contact me?
Oh, very well, Sir Edward—blurt it out, man!