Yesterday the Island’s MP Andrew Turner asked the Prime Minister for more funding for rural areas like the Island with many small and micro businesses to ‘deliver a country that works for all’. Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) is held weekly when the Commons sits and MPs of all parties put their names into a ballot to ask a question. Mr Turner used the opportunity to raise the point that the Isle of Wight is currently ranked at 339th place out of 379 areas in the UK Competitive Index despite being part of the ‘prosperous South East’. The index ranks competitiveness by looking at the development and sustainability of businesses as well as the economic welfare of residents.
In answering the question the Prime Minister pointed out that the Island’s MP had worked hard to put forward the ‘unique characteristics’ of the Island, mentioned some of the help that had already been given to the area and her conviction that the Island’s council and business community would work together to create the best possible conditions for growth and competitiveness in future.
Speaking after the debate Mr Turner said:
“I am very pleased that the Prime Minister has once again recognised that the Island has unique features, indeed the Solent LEP has set up a unique Isle of Wight Rural Grant Scheme which has had some great success in supporting small, rural businesses. We need more innovative thinking like this across other sectors. My question was not directly about the Government giving the Council more money – areas that simply rely on Government handouts are the poorest in the country. My question was about getting more money into Island businesses and helping them grow, so that in turn they will contribute towards improving our economy. I am working with the Council Leader, Cllr. Dave Stewart so that we have a strong, consistent message going out from the Island. In a short time we have made really good progress.
Cllr. Dave Stewart added:
“It has been a very busy few weeks. I have been appointed a Director of the Solent LEP, met the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Prime Minister herself. My message has been consistent; without a thriving and vibrant business community, the Island will die on its feet. When I heard the answer Andrew received at PMQs I was cock-a-hoop; it is clear our message is getting across loud and clear. We are building the case for more Government funding, but we are also working constructively with local businesses to make sure we can help them succeed, create more jobs and thus put more into the Island’s economy. Some members of the previous Independent administration seemed to simply score cheap political points. My team are all enthusiastic about working with Andrew to achieve the best possible outcomes for the Island. If we win the Council elections in May I promise much more of the same.”
Extract from Hansard :
Q5. This Government are working with local enterprise partnerships, councils and other partners to grow the economy, but despite being in the prosperous south-east, the Isle of Wight is 339th out of 379 in the UK competitiveness index. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that more growth funding is targeted at rural areas such as the island, with its many small and microbusinesses, to deliver a country that works for all? 
My hon. Friend speaks well on behalf of his constituents, and he is right to do that. I know that he has consistently put forward the unique characteristics of the Isle of Wight. We have already been able to support the island’s economy through the local growth deal for the Solent—that is £183 million—and the Solent local enterprise partnership has been supporting the Isle of Wight rural small and medium-sized enterprise programme; my hon. Friend particularly referred to rural funding. I want to make sure that we make the best of the diverse strengths of all Britain’s cities, regions and islands. I am sure that on the island, the business community and the council will work together to create the best possible conditions for growth and competitiveness in the future.