The Day The Little Black & White Book Project went to No 10!
I was invited to a very special meeting recently at none other than No 10 Downing Street. Each month the founder of Enterprise Nation, a community of small businesses, takes a gathering of people to meet with the Prime Minister’s business advisor, Jimmy McLoughlin. The aim of the session is to talk about issues small businesses are facing everyday an the possible solutions the government could help with.
It was a fantastic experience, just getting to walk up actual Downing Street and go behind the famous black door, let alone getting to speak about my own small business and ideas about how we could make a real difference to the way things are done.
My chosen topic was how we incentivise the UK's amazing entrepreneurs and businesses to be more environmentally focused, ethical and and sustainable. How to help them make smart choices that help protect our planet’s future. How to help everyday consumers afford the eco-friendly products rather than them always being at a premium. How to make this kind of manufacturing and product development the obvious choice for new products coming to market.
If ethical and sustainable manufacturing was to be offset by tax breaks further down the line would it help more companies choose to invest in our planet rather than just their bottom line? I really believe it would. Switching the balance so it becomes more expensive and moredifficult to manufacture an un-environmentally friendly way and more expensive to buy these products.
I suggested a new VAT zero rating category for products that meet a number of criteria from a predefined list. That's just one idea of how the often higher cost of sustainable manufacturing can be offset against VAT. I’m not sure if this is the best solution, or whether it’s a a different kind of tax break or a grants system to which entrepreneurs can apply.
But one thing I do believe is that making it make sense for the business owner financially will be the only way we will really make protecting the environment front of mind.
Jimmy McLoughlin seemed to respond well to my thoughts on the subject so I will be watching to see if anything ever comes of it (probably not but you gotta hope right!) especially as plastic waste is such a hot topic at the moment. He listed 3 things he and the government felt were our country's biggest challenges in the coming years; an aging population, obesity in children and environmental damage due to over consumption and the demand for energy. So it's on the agenda and I hope I I added some value to the conversation and ideas for some possible solutions to our eco woes.
All in all it was an amazing day, a privilege to have a seat at the table and an experience I’ll never forget. The day The Little Black & White Book Project went to number 10 Downing Street!