Uttoxeter's MP says he has endured a "baptism of fire" after being appointed small business minister just ahead of the collapse of major government contractor Carillion.

A cabinet reshuffle saw Andrew Griffiths installed in his new role shortly before the Wolverhampton-based construction firm - which is behind the A50 Growth Corridor Project - plunged into liquidation.

With 7,000 sub-contractors employed by Carillion and thousands more small businesses affected in the supply chain, Mr Griffiths is now working to soften the impact of the firm's collapse.

Speaking to BBC Radio Derby, he said: "It’s been a steep learning curve, a baptism of fire as a business minister.

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"I understand why they’re angry - small business owners - they’ve done nothing wrong, and what we need to do as a Government is to work out how we can support those small businesses and get them through this difficult time.

"The number one priority is to deal with the immediate outcomes of this going forward, we’ve got to learn from this.

"Payment terms of 120 days, which is what Carillion was paying some of its workers it seems, make it hugely difficult for small businesses to manage their cashflow.

"So particularly where we've got Government contracts, we need to make sure that those kind of practices aren't happening.

"In relation to the building sector in particular, it is really complicated and that makes it very difficult for small businesses in places like Burton and Derby to be able to bid for those contracts, get that work and offer really good value for money for the Government.

"As part of the fallout, we are going to look at exactly what we can do as a Government to make sure that small businesses are being treated fairly."

The A50 Growth Corridor Project is set to continue on the dual carriageway between the Little Chef and Blythe Bridge Roundabouts despite the Carillion collapse.

Carillion and Tarmac were jointly contracted to carry out the Project, which involves installing a new bridge, three roundabouts, new slip roads and link roads.

It is designed to reduce congestion and provide easy access from the A50 to Uttoxeter's under-construction Bramshall Meadows housing development, in Bramshall Road.

Highways chiefs have confirmed the work, which includes lane closures later this month, will continue as planned.

Mr Griffiths said: "The Government’s priorities have been to ensure that vital public services provided by Carillion are maintained, and to support and assist those contractors and businesses who were suppliers to Carillion.

"Along with the Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark, I have met with the banks to ensure they are assisting those affected, and both they and HMRC are offering help with payment holidays and time to pay.

"We are working with the Official Receiver to see how best to transfer those contracts to new suppliers, and have set up a task force, which includes representatives from the construction industry and the trade unions, in order to work together to do this in the best way possible.

"We are calling on the Government to bring all rail contracts operated by Carillion back in house.

"This would be an easy step in ensuring that jobs and services are protected.

"It's clear that rail workers at Carillion provide a service to the public so we do not want to see any discrepancy over this issue."