The following is a letter sent to media in the South East of England on 11 December 2015

Sir, Your readers might be interested to know that a new plan that will guarantee loans to small businesses has been approved in Brussels.  The guarantee scheme will provide £40million to over 3,000 small businesses.

The scheme is funded by the European Investment Fund and benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).


Small businesses in the UK are still struggling to get access to finance so this programme should be welcomed as an opportunity for small business owners.


The European Fund for Strategic Investments was a hard fought win for the Conservatives and I am delighted to see British businesses benefiting from our work in Brussels.


The guarantee scheme will allow Iwoca to lend GBP 40m (EUR 60m) to over 3,000 small businesses in the UK.  The loans will be provided as a result of a guarantee from the EIF under the COSME programme with financial backing from the European Commission. A small business can apply for financing under the programme at iwoca’s technology-driven risk platform automatically analyses thousands of data points for each application, allowing a business to get approved for up to £100,000 within hours.


If your readers have an views on this new guarantee scheme please email me directly at

Smart meter roll-out will reduce energy use and save money  


Conservative MEP for South East England, Richard Ashworth, has welcomed the announcement that smart meters will be installed in more than 7 million homes across the UK.

A £1bn mass roll out programme backed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and six commercial banks will deliver smart meters to help reduce energy use.

The EIB will provide £360 million to the initiative, which will become one of the largest smart meter schemes in Europe, and a key part of scaling up the use of smart meters in Britain.

Smart meters contain a digital display that records consumption of energy, allowing people to monitor and manage how much energy is being used.

Following the announcement Mr Ashworth commented:

“Smart meters can offer a range of benefits to consumers, giving people almost real-time information. This will enable people to know exactly how much energy they are using and how much it will cost.

“The meters will help ensure households are only billed for the energy they actually use, meaning an end to sometimes costly estimated bills.

“The initiative will support the UK Conservative government’s plans to ensure that all homes and small businesses receive a smart meter by the end of 2020.”

British workers get first look at UK job vacancies in new EU deal


TENS of thousands of jobs will be advertised only to workers in Britain under changes agreed in Brussels today.

Conservatives in the European Parliament have been instrumental in securing the key amendment to regulations governing EURES, a website used by people across Europe seeking work.

Richard Ashworth, MEP for South East England commented on the decision:

“The decision today is highly important. It is only fair to the people of Britain, that they should have the first chance of securing British jobs. It is totally justifiable that British businesses should have the choice to advertise their jobs only to British residents.

Existing rules insist that all positions advertised in UK job centres must also be posted on the EU-wide site.  However since December 2014 the UK Government has given British firms the choice to opt-out of the site, a move welcomed by Mr Ashworth.

Following the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee approving the amendment, the South East MEP explained:

“Previously the British government’s position remained open to a legal challenge, by formalising the UK’s position and allowing employers not to advertise a vacancy on EURES, it has given British residence an advantage in securing employment.

“Before the UK Government changed its rules in December 2014, 60 per cent of the 2.4 million jobs on the EURES site were for posts in the UK. This has now dropped to 15 per cent, reducing one of the factors pulling EU migrants to Britain”.

Employers will no longer be compelled to advertise on EURES if the move is justified “on the basis of skills and competence requirements related to the job.”  It also removes the need to advertise traineeships and apprenticeships across the EU.


EU plans to increase access to capital for SMEs

Proposals to cut red tape for companies seeking to raise capital have been welcomed today by Conservative MEP Richard Ashworth.

The ideas put forward by Briton’s EU Commissioner Lord Jonathan Hill particularly benefit small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) , which would be relieved of some of the costly burden of producing a lengthy, detailed prospectus each time they sought to raise funding by issuing shares or debt.

Mr. Ashworth, Conservative MEP for the South East of England believes that the planned changes will make it easier for UK SMEs to raise money.

“Access to investment is a big concern for a lot of businesses in the South East so I am particularly encouraged to see the European Commission taking steps to address this” he said.

“If handled correctly these plans could help to increase investment, boost growth and create jobs in the South East.”

The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the European Council for discussion and adoption.

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) there are 878,00 SMEs in the South East of England and it is hoped that a number of them would benefit from better access to capital markets.