Wiltshire businesswoman joins the new Small Business Council

By Nick Batten on 23 February, 2024

Debbie Williams, Co-founder of John Williams Heating Services based in Chippenham, has been named as one of the members of the new government-led Small Business Council. 

The Small Business Council aims to listen to the voice of the SME sector. At its first meeting – which took place this week – the council looked at finance and removing barriers to growth. The group brings together firms from a wide range of sectors including food & drink, trades, manufacturing and beauty.

Debbie said, “I’m very humbled to be invited to be part of this initiative and I hope to be able to make clear the needs of small businesses at the highest level, reminding decision-makers how vital we are to every community in the UK as well as the national economy.”

Chaired by Small Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, the Council will work alongside the PM’s Business Council to tackle key issues facing small firms who will be given new levels of access direct to government.

Almost every business in the country is a small business (99.9%) who in turn supports 27 million jobs across the UK, accounting for £4.5 trillion of annual turnover. Almost every billion-pound company, tech giant or multinational corporation started off as small business, which is why this Council has been formed, to help support and nurture the next generation of small firms to thrive and grow.

The Council also includes small business organisations such as Small Business Britain, the Federation of Small Businesses and Family Business UK.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said, “Small firms are at the heart of our communities and the engine of our economy – which is why the work of this council is so important. My own experience of working in a small business has given me crucial insights to the problems that SMEs face on a daily basis, from barriers to growth or access to finance.

“We’re giving small firms a big voice, so they can directly air their concerns to government without delay – only when we work together can we tackle some of the burning issues SMEs are facing – only then can we help boost jobs and grow the economy.”

FSB Policy Chair Tina McKenzie said, “This new council is important because it will bring what’s happening at the front line of British business, from our 5.5 million small business owners, right into the heart of Government. 

“Alongside No.10’s existing corporate Business Council, the new body will shine a light on the unique challenges small firms face on areas such as finance, regulation and skills. FSB is pleased to join it, and we hope to focus on how to reignite economic growth across our community.”

In recent weeks, the Government has made a series of announcements aimed at supporting small business owners. The Lilac Review was jointly unveiled with Small Business Britain – as a major new independent review determined to tackle and overcome the inequality faced by disabled business owners.

Additionally, the Help to Grow campaign website has been relaunched and refreshed, as a one-stop shop for SMEs to find the information they need to grow and scale up. This includes helping small firms to clearly identify what funding they can access, helpful webinars as well as the basics of how to set up a business for the first time.

Pictured above: Debbie Williams (credit: Barbara Leatham)