Policy Spotlight with Rhouda: Staffordshire Chamber Patrons visit the House of Commons

Last week we were delighted to invite twelve of our Patrons to the House of Commons for an event hosted by Jack Brereton, MP for Stoke-on-Trent South. Business leaders from across the region had the opportunity to ask questions or raise issues affecting their sector to the Minister of Small Business, Paul Scully and to the Minister of State for Transport, Andrew Stephenson. We were also joined by five local MPs, including Aaron Bell, Theo Clarke, Jo Gideon, Karen Bradley and Jack Brereton.

After being shown around the Houses of Parliament, the first session began where we were joined by Minister Paul Scully and Co-Executive Director of the British Chambers of Commerce, Hannah Essex who chaired the session. The Minister explained the work that the government is currently doing around supporting small businesses in regions across the nation, including Staffordshire. This was followed by a Q&A session where our patrons asked questions around the Chancellors Spring Statement, support for the hospitality and retail sector, energy prices and the move to renewable energy sources and levelling up. More discussions took place regarding the support being offered to small businesses in order to help them cope with the current cost of living crisis.

After speaking to our patrons for the first session of the day Minister Paul Scully said: “We want to make sure that we work with you [business leaders] to better shape our policies”.

As many businesses across the nation are facing recruitment difficulties due to the chronic imbalances in the UK labour market, with demand for workers outpacing supply, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, Jo Gideon highlighted the importance of apprenticeships in solving current skills and labour shortages.

To find out more about developing your employees’ skills and to find and apply for funding for paid training contacts, contact Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce’s Skills Hub by calling 0300 600 1066 or visit www.staffordshireskillshub.org.uk.

Jack Brereton MP explained the importance of developing the region’s transport system to allow better access to transport which will support the development and growth of the city. By allowing more people to access opportunities in the region, businesses are more likely to be able to find the right skills for their firms, helping to solve the issues concerning recruitment.

In the final session of the day, we were joined by Minister Andrew Stephenson who began by providing an update on the current work being carried out in the development of phase 2a of HS2. The Minister highlighted that there are currently 2,400 businesses across the nation who are now involved in the project, 84 of which are Staffordshire based. Minister Andrew Stepheson encouraged more businesses to bid for HS2 contract opportunities by visiting https://bit.ly/3wmY37F.
You can also find out more about HS2 and the opportunities for businesses by joining the Staffordshire Chambers HS2 Forum. The next forum takes place on 28th April, and Chamber members can register, here.

Business leaders in attendance stressed the need for connectivity across Staffordshire to enable cities like Stoke-on-Trent to widen their business links. Jack Brereton MP outlined the ongoing bids to reopen train stations within the city such as the work being done by local MPs and local authorities to reopen the Stoke-Leek line.

Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce said: “Our event at the House of Commons was a great success, with two Ministers, five MPs and two peers of the realm joining us and speaking to our patrons. The sessions ran by the Ministers were so informative and highlighted the need to work together to help the development and growth of the region as well as the nation.

“Stoke-on-Trent has been successful in securing investment from the government recently especially as the government have prioritised it as a region for levelling up. It is now important that local MPs and local authorities are able to work together to ensure that there are better local opportunities for workers in order to help support and grow local businesses in the area.”

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