Stroud’s small and medium businesses are the backbone of our local economy. This is why, over the past year, I, along with representatives from Stroud District Council, have undertaken a programme of in-depth visits to local employers to find out about the key issues they face.

This month, we issued a report of the key findings following the meetings with more than 30 businesses, ranging in size from three to 600 employees, from sectors including engineering, aerospace, medical, social care, food and more.

We found that Brexit uncertainty has led to businesses delaying investment plans, recruitment or tendering for new business opportunities, and it was overwhelmingly apparent that leaving without a deal would be very difficult.

But it was also good to hear the many positive experiences of businesses and that many are looking to expand.

It’s also clear that there are challenges. While most employ a high number of Stroud people and reported very positive relationship with their staff, almost all (92%) said they also experienced difficulties in recruiting staff with the skills they need and many rely on agency and temporary staff.

Infrastructure and planning issues were also concerns with almost a third said they are unable to find the premises they need to be able to expand.

Business and creating a fairer, greener economy was also the theme of our productive discussion morning with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell on Saturday.

It was clear from the discussion there that investment in training and better transport is vital to the health of a semi-rural economy like ours.

I am continuing to push for more investment in lifelong learning as well as key infrastructure and transport improvements.

You can read the full report online and our recommendations for boosting Stroud business at