Westminster Business Forum

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Priorities for supporting new businesses to start and scale up in the UK

February 2021


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference focuses on policy priorities and next steps for supporting start-ups and encouraging SMEs to grow in the UK.


With a ministerial keynote contribution, delegates will assess progress and next steps in the Government’s ambition of making the UK the best place in the world to start a business, as set out in the Industrial Strategy.


It will also be an early opportunity discuss the further support that start-ups and scale-ups are needing following the transition from the EU, and as they navigate through the coronavirus crisis.


We are delighted to be able to include a keynote from Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, as well as from Alice Hu Wagner, Managing Director, Strategy, Economics and Business Development, British Business Bank; and Emma Jones, Founder, Enterprise Nation.


Our conferences typically bring together stakeholders with key policy officials to discuss the issues.  This one is no different, with representatives due to attend from BEIS; Treasury; the IPO; DIT; The Scottish Government; the Welsh European Funding Office and the Welsh Government, as well as representatives from the APPG on Fair Business Banking.


The agenda:


  • Policy priorities for supporting new entrepreneurs and economic growth
  • What entrepreneurs want - how policymakers can support small business
  • Developing future entrepreneurs - education, mentoring, and wellbeing
  • Access to finance and supporting diversity
  • Case Studies - growing SMEs and addressing emerging issues
  • Supporting businesses with scaling up during the pandemic
  • Tackling key challenges to starting and scaling up businesses in the UK - investment, business support, and mitigating the impact of the pandemic and transition from the EU

The discussion at a glance:


  • transition from the EU - implications for start-ups including immigration policy and access to skills and finance, export barriers and import costs, business partner relocation, and research funding
  • COVID-19 support:
    • the impact of measures introduced by the Government to support small businesses and enable them to access funding
    • as a record number of startups is reported to have filed for administration since the start of the pandemic
  • supporting entrepreneurship - what more is needed by business start-ups and scale-ups in areas such as access to finance, protecting IP, and taxation measures
  • enterprise education:
    • in mainstream education through projects such as the Enterprise Education and Research Project Fund
    • progress made since the Alison Rose Review call for the business community to increase the resources available to education providers to teach about starting a business
    • how the role that universities play as incubators for student and graduate entrepreneurs might be expanded
  • diversity - latest thinking on how female entrepreneurs, and people from ethnic minorities and other under-represented backgrounds, can be better supported to start and grow businesses

A scan of relevant developments:


  • £40m boost for cutting-edge start-ups - announced by the Government for innovative businesses and start-ups to bring forward new technological advances in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • government support for small businesses online - establishing a Digital Markets Unit within the CMA:
    • working with regulators to develop and enforce a statutory code of conduct to enable small businesses to better promote their products online through fair access to online platform services
    • following the Government’s response to issues highlighted in the CMA’s Online platforms and digital advertising market study 
  • the Chancellor announcing further financial support for businesses following the latest lockdown announcement - with: 
    • the extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme for small business owners
    • government loans worth over £18bn being received by SMEs so far during the pandemic 
  • Bounce Back Loans - with the FSB calling for further support from government and banks to help small businesses access finance, following a number of SMEs struggling to access BBLs
  • the Alison Rose Review - latest report showing progress in advancement of women in business, but despite the UK leading Europe in start-up capital only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female 
  • business failures and risks - reflecting the impact of further coronavirus restrictions and the end of the Brexit Transition Period, with the FSB reporting that: 
    • confidence amongst small businesses is has fallen to its second lowest point in the last decade, according to the latest small business confidence index reports for the end of 2020
    • around 250,000 small businesses are at risk of closing in 2021, following an increase in the number of start-ups filing for administration and government support through the pandemic

Policy officials attending:


Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places at this conference have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the APPG on Fair Business Banking, and officials from BEIS; the Department for International Trade; HM Treasury; the Intellectual Property Office; The Scottish Government; the Welsh European Funding Office and the Welsh Government.


Overall, we expect speakers and other participants to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, BEIS, the Department for Work and Pensions and other relevant Departments and regulatory bodies along with finance providers, advisors and those providing further forms of support to start-up businesses, representatives of the SME and the wider business community, innovators and entrepreneurs, legal and other advisors, local authorities and community groups, trade bodies, HEIs and skills providers, academics and commentators, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***


  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles