I was privileged last week to be out and about with the Prime Minister meeting young entrepreneurs in the North-West.
David Cameron invited me to be with him when he made an announcement about a £30 million boost to the Start-Up Loans initiative, of which I am chairman. The initiative was set up to help young people take their first step to owning a business. As well as providing financial support, we offer practical help, quality mentoring and support. Start-Up Loans provides low-interest flexible loans to people aged 18 to 30 whose business is in England. As a result of the extra cash announced by the Prime Minister, we now have a fighting fund of over £110 million to help launch more than 40,000 businesses and create thousands of jobs. It became clear to me as I talked with people about this exciting initiative that the challenges those aged 25 to 30 face are practically identical to those of 18-24-year-olds — and Start-Up Loans has the infrastructure to solve these problems. The extra £30 million means we have the money to meet the anticipated demand that the age extension will bring. We have ensured that a solid framework and administration is firmly in place so that these young people have the best chance of success. Small and medium-sized enterprises are the engine room of the economy and we need to do everything we can to help young people with the vision and energy to create jobs and wealth.