As the saying goes, Britain is a nation of shopkeepers. A country where small business is the lifeblood of our nation. The job creators who fuel our economy and who we owe a debt of gratitude.
This is true across our great country, but it is particular true, here, in Dover and Deal. It takes real guts to set up a new business – with long hours and hard work essential to make it a success. Those who take the risk to create those jobs deserve our support.
Yet for too long small businesses in our regions were overlooked. Money was poured into London and the other big cities. Big business boomed, small business was ignored.
In our corner of Kent, small business is vital for people’s livelihoods. Ignoring small business has a high cost indeed. That’s why we fight for every single penny of investment.
While it is frustrating that we constantly have to make the case for more money and services, that hard work does pay off. Since 2010 we have been doing everything we can to bring more investment, to boost jobs and to help local business. And we have come a long way.
The total number of businesses in Dover was 2,180 back in 2010, now there are 2,585 businesses. That means over 400 new businesses have been created in Dover and Deal since, an increase of 19%.
Hundreds of millions have been invested in our area, with thousands of apprentices created. Apprentices which will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
The impact of this is that 7,700 more people are now in work in Dover and Deal than there were in 2010. That’s an increase of almost 20%. And these aren’t just any jobs, they are better paid jobs with average pay now increasing to more than £510 a week.
What’s even better is that 82% of people in the constituency are now in work.
More businesses, more jobs, more invested, more apprentices and better pay. That is something each and every one of us should be proud of. But we must recognise that none of this would be possible without the courage and hard work of the businesspeople in our area.
While we've come a long way since 2010 – there is still much more to do. We must ensure that Dover and Deal continues to thrive and that firms across our corner of Kent get the support they need.
We must keep fighting to deliver the bright future we all want for Dover and Deal.