Sunderland’s young business brains could save the UK economy, says PM

James Caan.
James Caan.
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A MOVE that could see Wearside buzzing with young entrepreneurs has been welcomed by business leaders.

Prime Minister David Cameron this week announced that young businessmen and women could hold the key to helping the country’s crippled economy bounce back.

And to help them get innovative business ideas off the ground, Mr Cameron has launched a loan scheme to help entrepreneurial Wearsiders find their feet.

Under StartUp Loans, people aged 18 to 24 can apply for funds, expected to be about £2,500, to help them launch their business venture.

It is hoped the initiative, which will be chaired by Dragons’ Den investor James Caan, could lead to 30,000 more start-ups, boosting economic growth.

Gary Hutchinson, chairman of the Sunderland branch of the North East Chamber of Commerce, today welcomed the scheme.

He said: “Any scheme to help young people set up their own business has got to be positive news.

“The economy needs as much support from the Government as possible and helping young entrepreneurialism has got to be a good thing.”

As part of the £82million scheme, entrepreneurs will be given five years to pay back the cash, with interest charged at the level of the Retail Prices Index plus three per cent.

But Mr Hutchinson has raised concerns over whether the amount of cash will be enough to help new businesses really get going.

“It’s not a great deal of money in business terms and I’d ask whether £2,500 is enough to help someone set up their own business,” he said.

“It is definitely a token gesture but I really don’t know if it’s enough to encourage people to start up.”

The move forms part of a review carried out by former Conservative minister Lord Young of Graffham, who claims small businesses are the “engine room of our economy and critical to future economic growth”.

He added: “Now, more than ever, we have got to get behind our small businesses and encourage even more people to seize the opportunities that there is to start up on their own.”

Launching the scheme yesterday, Mr Cameron said: “I want this to be the year where people can think ‘yes, I can do it’, that we can get as many viable businesses as possible off the ground, that people can have a go and that we see a whole new wave of entrepreneurs who start small but think big.”

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