A leading business owner from Cumbria has been advising Boris Johnson on how to help small companies.

Maria Whitehead, co-owner of Hawkshead Relish, and a number of other small business owners and entrepreneurs from a range of business sectors across the UK, including tech, retail and manufacturing, met with the Prime Minister and business secretary Andrea Leadsom earlier this month at 10 Downing Street.

The Prime Minister outlined his desire to build a culture for start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs in the UK, which would include bringing gigabit broadband speeds to everyone and creating a tax environment to stimulate growth.

Maria returned on September 17 to attend a business reception held by the Prime Minister, with Chancellor Sajid David and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove and 50 fellow business leaders from across the UK.

Maria and her business colleagues outlined a number of ways in which help could be given to boost the growth and productivity of small enterprises, including effective ways of tackling late payments, providing export opportunities and improving the skills and education of young people starting out in business.

Maria attended in her capacity as a representative of Be The Business, a group of business leaders from across the UK who share their ideas and learning to address the productivity and underperformance of UK businesses.

During the reception the assembled parties discussed a number of business concerns including potential issues relating to trade tariffs, supply chain, infrastructure and downturn in export due to current uncertainties and options for business growth in existing and new export markets.

When asked about Brexit the Prime Minister outlined that he was determined to back business and support growth for the future.

Maria said: “There seems to be a real determination in Government to make the UK home to the most ambitious businesses in the world.

"That said it is essential that they listen to businesses of all sizes.

"On both occasions ministers expressed their desire to address ways of increasing revenue, reducing costs, acquiring new customers and entering new markets - things that UK businesses of all sizes are concerned with.

"Obviously there is considerable uncertainty at the moment and with that in mind I’m extremely proud to have had the chance to represent Cumbria, and in particular the food and drink sector at these high level meetings and to have had the opportunity to put across the problems and very real concerns of businesses in the rural North West.’’