Celebrating British enterprise: speech by the Prime Minister

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

David Cameron's speech to a reception of new British businesses who benefit from the New Enterprise Allowance and Start-Up Loan schemes.

First of all a very big thank you to all those who run the Start-Up Loans scheme and New Enterprise Allowance. There are people in Jobcentre Plus up and down the country who’ve done a brilliant job at marketing this scheme. The Start-Up Loans team, it was a start-up itself. It started as an idea in this building and it’s now become a huge generator of loans to businesses and providing hope to people who want to get their idea going. So first of all a very big thank you to them.

But above all, a huge thank you and congratulations to the people who’ve taken their courage in both hands and started out and set something up. It’s an incredibly brave and noble and good thing to do. You are creating new businesses, you are creating hope for our country, you are bringing jobs for young people; it’s a really exciting path you’ve taken.

And what we want to do is try and help you. That’s what the Start-Up Loans are about, that’s what the New Enterprise Allowance is all about. And that’s why today we’re announcing we’re going to be putting another £70 million into these schemes. We want to make sure the New Enterprise Allowance is running not just this year and next year, but into the future. I think that’s vitally important. And with the Start-Up Loans they’ve been flying off the shelves so quickly that we want to put more funding in to make sure more loans are available. And up to now it’s been a bit of an 18 to 30, not to be confused with the holiday, and now we want to extend the chance of Start-Up Loans to people over the age of 30, and also to say to people coming out of our armed forces that they might have great business ideas. We want to give them special help with Start-Up Loans.

But I want you to go away with one really important thought and it’s not just about what you’re doing for your own hopes and dreams. Not just about what you’re doing in terms of building your business, but it’s what this means for our country. Because everyone knows we’ve come out of a long and difficult recession, the downturn has taken time to get out of. Everybody knows that we have to do two things; we’ve got to give hope to young people that want to work and we’ve also got to make sure that Britain is a success in this modern, competitive, interconnected world. And what you’re doing is absolutely vital to meeting those two objectives.

Government got too big, the public sector got too big. Inevitably we had to lose some jobs from the public sector. That would have happened whoever was standing here as Prime Minister. And when that happens it’s vital that the private sector responds and grows and takes people on and brings the investments and jobs and the wealth our country needs.

Now we have got some great big businesses in this country, don’t get me wrong, and I pile on to airplanes and fly them around the world flying the flag for Britain and make sure they can compete and succeed. And we’ve got some great medium-sized business in our country, the backbone of a lot of our local economies. But the truth is where new jobs will come from is from the start-up, from the small, from the medium-sized enterprises, from all of you. And so you are the engines of growth for our economy. And if you can succeed, we can have a spirit of entrepreneurialism in our country that we had in the past, and that some other countries have, then we can build that spirit in this decade, then we can be a great economic success story.

And there’s one last thing to think about which is this: today when you look around the industrial landscape of the western world or indeed in China or India, the amount of companies that have gone from nothing to mega-size, in 5 or 10 years is staggering. You know if you think back 50 years a lot of the businesses around then, a lot of them had been around the previous 50 years. Today you’ve got the Googles and the Skypes, these were just ideas a decade ago – in some cases. And that I think is a really exciting thought to have. Not all of you want that sort of future, you’ve got these great niche businesses to run you want to build and you want to make something of them.

But there’s also a chance to go from a very small start-up to a massive business that can take on the world and win. So I hope everyone will set their sights and ambition high. I think it’s an exciting time for our economy, it’s an exciting time for our country. It’s always daunting starting a business and setting out but this is a government that wants to help you every step of the way. That’s what Start-Up Loans is about, that’s what the New Enterprise Allowance is about. But the biggest congratulations to those of you who’ve taken this big, sometimes quite frightening decision, to step outside the typical job or to step outside the typical career and say ‘I want to do this by myself, I want to make my dream a reality’ and I have massive respect for that. You’re doing a great thing for yourself; you’re doing an even greater thing for our country. Thank you very much indeed.