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How the government can help you set up a business from home
[August 18, 2014]

How the government can help you set up a business from home

(City A.M. (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MY PARENTS built a software business from scratch at our home near Chester when I was growing up. My youth was spent surrounded by the early computers and cables of their small firm. Today, all my siblings run their own startups, so I know from close experience what it takes to run a business from home. And as enterprise minister, I want to make it easier.

"Kitchen table" businesses are booming. There are now half a million more home-run enterprises than in 2010 - 2.9m in total. And digital technology has made it easier than ever. These home businesses contribute £300bn to the British economy every year, and account for almost 10 per cent of all company turnover. It's this spirit of personal endeavour and self-determination that's driving our economic recovery.

In fact, some of our most iconic new businesses began life at home. Take the world-renowned Brompton Bicycles designer, Andrew Ritchie. He created the original prototypes in his bedroom overlooking Brompton Observatory. And Julie Deane, a mother of two, started her business at home with just £600 in 2008. Today, the Cambridge Satchels Company is worth more than £10m.

We want millions more to follow in their footsteps, because that's how we'll create the jobs and prosperity our country needs. If just one in 10 home businesses took on an extra employee, we could put 300,000 more people to work.

But we know that it takes real guts to give up a nine-to-five job and set up on your own firm. Those who do so should be getting support from the government, not a great big tax bill and a tangle of red tape. That's why last Friday we announced a package of new measures to cut bureaucracy and make life easier for home entrepreneurs.

First, updated planning guidance will reduce the need for entrepreneurs to apply for permission to operate their fledgling businesses from home. Second, we have made sure that the vast majority of home-based businesses do not pay business rates. Third, a new model tenancy agreement will give people the confidence to run a business from a rented home. And because we want more people to take the plunge, a simple new guide will give anyone thinking of starting up a firm from the kitchen table all the information they need.

Our message is clear: if you want to start a business at home, go for it. We are making it easier, so that you can just concentrate on building your company.

At Britain's first ever Home Business Summit last week, I was privileged to meet many home-run companies. I have no doubt that many of them will be household names in the years ahead. This government is on their side - right from the beginning.

Matthew Hancock is minister of state for business and enterprise, and minister of state for energy.

(c) 2014 City A.M.

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