With Brexit looming, former Chairman of Business Peak District, Jim Harrison, along with its DDDC and MPDD partners, asked members and the wider business community their priorities in the post-Brexit era.

This resulted in five broad issues which were sent to the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin, MP for Derbyshire Dales.

Mr. McLoughlin’s replies are summarised below:

  1. Access to locally delivered business support programmes providing one to one, face to face advice and funding for smaller businesses with simplified processes and faster decisions

Business support will continue to be delivered through Growth Hubs, also known as LEPs or Local Enterprise Partnerships. (The LEPs representing the Peak District include D2N2, Sheffield City Region and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. More on the LEPs can be found here.)

LEPs work closely with the Department for International Trade, UK Research and Innovation, the British Business Bank, and others to deliver a joined up approach, linking national and local business support networks.

As for statistics, the Government-backed British Business Bank is supporting over £5.2bn of finance to more than 74,000 companies and participating in a further £7.1bn to mid-cap businesses. Furthermore, the Start Up Loans programme has delivered over 55,000 loans, providing over £400 million of funds, and 56,000 jobs.

  1. Enable businesses to continue to trade internationally free from increased restrictions to exports or new regulatory barriers

Mr. McLoughlin highlighted the opportunity for the UK to forge a new role for itself and promote free and frictionless trade, facilitated customs checks, and trade deals with other countries. Citing the Government’s July 2018 White Paper he noted:

  • A proposed UK-EU free trade area for goods
  • A comprehensive package for services and digital goods

Negotiations are clearly underway.

  1. Simplify State Aid and procurement rules to enable the public sector to support SMEs delivering high speed broadband in remote rural areas

Mr. McLoughlin deferred to the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) 2016.

As broadband also relates to mobile phone signal all four mobile network operators have met their obligation to cover 90% of the UK since March of this year. Measures have also been taken to lower deployment costs and reform laws to help infrastructure planning.

The Government realises the situation can improve and now aims for 95% of UK population coverage by 2022.

  1. A future policy and support system which rewards farmers and land managers for the full range of public benefits delivered by the Peak District including high quality food and clean water. The support system needs to be simple, results based and have local flexibility to deliver for the area’s special qualities and needs.

Our exit from the EU provides new opportunities for the agricultural sector, better support and an outcome-based approach. Efforts will be made to build on our world leading agricultural sector.

To quote Mr. McLoughlin, “This Government remains committed to being the first generation to leaving the natural environment in a better state than in which we found it.”

  1. A fair deal for rural areas reflecting the loss of EU funding and ‘rural premium’ to delivering services to increase growth and productivity across the whole of the rural economy (both in the transitional period and longer term)

Similarly, the Government is reviewing its position on the Annual Local Government funding Settlement, entitled the Fair Funding Review.

There will continue to be a redistribution of business rates between local authorities to “take account of relative needs and move away from central government funding”.

The Government is also looking at how to replace EU funded schemes for economic growth.

In addition, Mr. McLoughlin commented that free movement of people will end as we leave the EU and the Government is seeking a reciprocal arrangement for business people, tourists and students.

Robin Eyre

Chair of Business Peak District