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Gloucestershire Business News

VIDEO: Business minister visits Gloucester

A government business minister was in town last night as a special guest of Gloucester Business Club.

And Punchline editor Mark Owen was there to interview Kevin Hollinrake MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business and Trade, about a range of topical business issues.

Mr Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk & Malton, is also a successful businessman, having established Hunters estate agent in 1992 during the recession and growing it to over 100 offices.

Mr Hollinrake played down fears about the impending rise in Corporation Tax from 19% to 25%, saying 70% of businesses won't see any difference at all due to the small business threshold of £50,000 profits.

He said: "The reality is we are still spending £177 billion more this year than we are collecting in taxes. It's a huge deficit and we've got to make sure we balance the books."

Asked about the problem many companies are facing finding the right people and whether we should increase immigration, Mr Hollinrake said: "I don't think we should open the floodgates in terms of immigration. I believe we should have a sensible policy that suits the country moving towards a high wage, high skilled economy, so it's right that now we have a points-based system so we can decide who should come into the UK.

"Yes, we want to bring more people out of retirement. We've had about half a million people still of working age leave the workplace since the pandemic so we've got some work to do there trying to entice those people back into the workplace."

"I agree we want more people to pursue a vocational education so we've brought in T levels so rather than than people studying English or history at A level, for example, we've got people studying engineering, for example, or some other technical qualifications and investing more in apprenticeships so more people are doing things that are really practical and the skills we need. That's how we make sure we've got a high wage, high skills economy."

During his visit the minister also visited two hospitality venues in Gloucester - the Turks Head and the Hare Lane fish and chip shop.

Gloucester MP Richard Graham told Punchline after the meeting: "The key message from him to a couple of hospitality venues in Gloucester was all about reminding them of the reduction in business rates that's coming effective this April.

"That's going to mean a huge difference to the sustainability of some of the pubs and cafes and fish and chip shops like the one he visited last night who have been struggling with the increased energy costs and the general costs of living.

"He was here to listen to what the people in the Turks Head had to say and in the Hare Lane fish and chip shop and I think he found it very helpful.

"They were encouraged that we've got a business minister who created his own small business himself in 1992 and took it to it to a size where he was able to float it in 2015 and is now the person who is making some key decisions on how the government is going to help business and get us back in the growth mode that we all want to see."

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