Stephen is a strong champion of local shops and small business. He wants to see vibrant town centres and believes that more can be done to level the playing field for small shops competing against internet and out-of-town giants. He has called on Welsh Government to act urgently on Business Rates which are crippling town centres.
He believes events like Haverfood Fest and the local Farmers Markets are important for boosting business in towns. He joined the fight for Haverfordwest Castle when a private sale threated access and has worked hard to secure over £18 million from the UK Government Levelling Up Fund to restore the 900 year old castle and turn it into a purpose built events space. This project supports Pembrokeshire County Council's regeneration of the town centre in Haverfordwest which will boost the towns tourism appeal and footfall in the shopping areas. A further £3 million was also secured for projects focussing on jobs and skills improvements.
Meeting with local businesses is an important part of the work that Stephen does as an MP. He regularly holds business roundtables and takes up issues on behalf of businesses.
Stephen was very supportive of the UK government support schemes and was very active in ensuring that businesses were able to access the support needed during the Covid-19 pandemic. 7,700 jobs in Preseli Pembrokeshire were protected under the UK government’s furlough scheme during the pandemic. The UK Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which pays up to 80% of earnings, supported 2,600 self-employed people in Preseli Pembrokeshire receiving £8.8 million in support.
On top of the funding for these two essential schemes, the UK Government provided Welsh Government with an additional £2.2 billion to support the Welsh NHS, charities, local government and businesses through the pandemic.
Stephen's key focus now is on supporting businesses to ensure that they bounce back better following the pandemic.