Members of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum are looking to the chancellor to announce measures in his summer statement that will enable businesses to plan for long-term growth and security.
Its chief executive, Jonathan Lamb, said entrepreneur-led businesses would welcome further support to scale-up and one key area is the need for a workforce with the transferable skills necessary to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing economic landscape.
He said: “Our members have highlighted the need for support in key areas such as training, research and development, recruiting the right talent and support in embracing and adapting to change.”
James Griffiths of Middlesbrough-based hydraulic engineering experts IMH called for the government to support scaleup businesses by encouraging investment in business functions to make them more efficient and responsive.
“One key area where decisive action is needed is the issue of late payments which, it is estimated leads to the closure of 50,000 small business a year and is a further drain on our economy.”
Vikki Jackson-Smith of Hartlepool-based J&B Recycling said she would like to see more investment in the UK’s recycling infrastructure, which would be assisted by making the regulatory processes for planning and permitting applications easier and much quicker.
She said: “Such support would not only generate jobs but also contribute to the reduction in CO2 emissions and our move towards the creation of a more circular economy. Action is also needed to ensure products are designed with reuse or recycling in mind and that when things are made they included a minimum amount of recycled content.”
Joanne Warren of Lumo, based in Stanley, County Durham, which works with companies to capitalise on R&D credits, said that the system is of significant benefit to entrepreneurs, encouraging companies to flourish, grow and adapt through innovation.
She said: “With the emergence of the tech sector and the crucial role it will play in our future economy, the chancellor could look to change the definition of R&D that currently excludes tech start-ups from accessing rebates on a range of technologies which are vital to their development.”
Lucy Hatt, senior lecturer at Newcastle University, welcomed the government’s recent measures to support researchers, scientists and technicians working at UK universities but added that more must be done to protect the entire university sector.
She said: “All of the universities in the North East play a crucial role in developing not only the skills and experience that businesses require but also the technology and inspiration behind many successful enterprises.”
Paul Drake operations director of Sapere Software, which is based in Stockton, said that the chancellor needed to urgently address the digital skills gap – which would go a long way to levelling up the country through funding reskilling projects to future proof the education and training sectors.
He said: “The skills gap is a hindrance to productivity, to growth and innovation and the chancellor must commit more resources to producing the digitally skilled workers that this region’s growing digital sector needs right now.”
Russell Croisdale of Peterlee-based Encore Group said: “One lesson that business has learnt from the current coronavirus pandemic is the need to adapt and innovate and anything the chancellor can do to support businesses not only play their part but benefit from the process of economic recovery would be welcomed.”