MP Greg Clark was invited to the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce meeting to talk to its members about his role as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and how Hastings will take part in helping Britain achieve greater economic prosperity.
Recounting his childhood, which included and seeing his father running a small business in Middlesbrough, and up to his new appointment in 2016, Greg Clark spoke about the industrial strategy in more detail outlining five areas that will enhance Britain’s cultural and economic proposal.
To support this he gave a range of examples that would help both business and the people within them. These Included investing in R&D projects that will continue to stimulate business progress; establishing a technical education system with half a billion pounds to boost curriculums, that will enable students to gain qualifications in science, technology, engineering and maths; upgrading our infrastructure to make transport, housing and digital networks more accessible to people and businesses; making Britain the best place to start and grow a business; and giving people from low-income backgrounds the chance to be trained and learn new skills for work which will help to improve the employment profile of towns and cities across the country.
He went on to say that Brexit has given everyone a lot to think about in terms of the skills and resources we can offer domestically and abroad. Britain is already a global leader in science and research, home to four of the top 10 universities in the world namely the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Imperial College London and UCL. Britain is going through a transformational period, making preparations to leave the EU and ensuring that UK businesses are doing what they can to comply with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations).
The evening closed with a Q&A session where audience members were keen to ask the MP some well-thought out questions about the government’s industrial strategy, using alternative energy resources like water power, and whether we have the infrastructure in place to support and govern the use of data in a responsible way.
A spokesman from Ashdown Hurrey asked the Business Secretary about his thoughts on reducing the current VAT threshold of £85,000 after it was announced last year that it would be reduced to £20,000 and would mean that some small businesses won’t be exempt from paying VAT anymore. Understanding the pressure, Greg Clark added that the proposed VAT threshold shouldn’t discourage businesses from expanding, and when decisions are taken to reform the VAT system it should make life easier for small businesses instead of further hurdles.