Corporate Social Responsibility - 22-04-16

In Parliament next week I hope to raise the issue of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in a debate about Meningitis B. My point will relate specifically to GlaxoSmithKline and whether they could be encouraged to further relax the price of their vaccine to allow greater patient access for the very poor in our society.

GSK are a multi-billion dollar corporation who acknowledge the significance of their corporate responsibilities in their PR material; we'll see if they can step up to the plate in due course but that isn't the focus of my column this week.

CSR is now a central aspect of everyday life for many private sector companies, of all sizes, who see the value of community involvement as a fundamental part of their mission.

Most are unsung heroes who deserve to be recognised and I would like to hear from anyone who cares to put forward a Business for the 2016 All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Group award for National Responsible Business Champion. The scheme is unique in that only MPs can nominate a company for its work in their constituency, (although the company's HQ may be elsewhere).

Criteria include; supporting the local community, investing in healthy workplaces, offering apprenticeships and training to all age groups, promoting equality and diversity (including offering older people work opportunities) and monitoring their suppliers' actions on these issues too.

The deadline for my chosen Champion for Maidstone & The Weald is 5pm on Wednesday 27 April 2016. For details contact my office on 020 7219 7107 or email

This is a great opportunity for businesses to be recognised both locally and nationally. Nominees will attend a lunchtime reception in Westminster on Wednesday 13th July, where the press will be in attendance as the national winner is announced.

It might be your business, your place of work, your supplier – make sure it is nominated now.


Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger.  The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.

Future of British fruit industry under serious threat

MP and Kent farmers confront DEFRA over major concerns facing the industry

Westminster, London 13-04-16; Major changes are needed if the Garden of England is to survive as a commercial horticultural proposition, say farmers.

'A toxic combination of unique and extreme packaging costs required by UK supermarkets, together with UK pesticide regulations, massive escalation in the cost of seasonal workers, systemic problems with the new online 'Basic Payment System' and difficult barriers to export markets are all conspiring to prevent our farmers from making a fair and reasonable profit – if at all' says Helen Grant MP.

The issues all arose from a meeting called and convened by the MP for Maidstone & The Weald whose constituency is home to a large fruit growing area in the heart of Kent's famous 'Garden of England'.

Following a 90 minute session with farmers, NFU representatives and senior officials from DEFRA in Westminster, Mrs Grant has produced an action plan to address these and other issues facing local farmers and related businesses.

Helen said 'These businesses are the beating heart of rural communities in my constituency. I will not stand by and see them face ruin when they are very good and viable commercial entities being thwarted by nonsense'.

Top fruit grower and NFU member Clive Baxter, of Westerhill Farm, near Maidstone, said: "The NFU and the industry has had various meetings with Defra to highlight issues and problems within the industry. We are very pleased to see Helen Grant's involvement. There has been a lot of listening to date from Defra but with our MP behind us we're hoping we'll see more in the way of actions and solutions from Defra. It is actions that we now need because our industry is suffering at the moment."

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With very best wishes


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