John Stevenson MP for Carlisle, and Chair of the Family Business All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), this week held a Parliamentary business debate on the role of family business in the UK economy.
Opening the debate John spoke of the importance of family businesses to local communities and the local and national economy, outlining family businesses come in many sizes, across all sectors and can be found in every constituency.
Headline figures include 5 million family businesses registered in the UK, employing in the vicinity of 14 million people, which is over 50% of all private sector employment. They are estimated to account for 44% of the GDP and contribute £575 billion to the UK economy.
Giving examples of three family business based in Carlisle, Story, Pioneer Foods and Thomas Graham John spoke of the contribution of family businesses overall to the Carlisle economy, with such businesses employing thousands of local people, utilising other local businesses and suppliers and involving themselves with local community activities. Often over generations, contributing to the very fabric of a local place. Family business owners are looked up to locally and certainly inspire the next generation of family businesses and leaders of the future.
Most family businesses have the same issues as any other type of business currently – energy costs, rates and taxation, recruitment and skills, regulation and the tax burden. However there are a number of issues that are more unique to family businesses such as succession planning and the financing of start ups and business development.
During the course of the debate Government was urged to recognise the value and importance of family businesses and address issues with investment and finance, skills and training opportunities, business advice on areas such as succession planning and business development.
Speaking After the debate John said, ’Almost all of us can give really good examples of successful family businesses in our communities. As well as the economic and social benefits that these businesses bring, they foster many important qualities such as flexibility in approach, loyalty amongst staff resulting in longer service, and the ability to take a long view, planning for the next generation and not just the next set of figures.
Family businesses really do matter and Government should be doing all they can to support them going forward. This of course works two ways, more locally we should celebrate their success but also support them where we can by shopping and buying locally and helping more than we sometimes do. We must ensure that family business continue to be the backbone of our country and central to our communities.”