Archive | June, 2013


Shadow Minister Toby Perkins gets insight into support available for York’s small businesses and jobseekers

This article originally appeared in the York Press.  You can read more here.


tobySUPPORT for York’s small businesses and jobseekers has been outlined to a senior politician on a fact-finding visit to the city.

Shadow Minister for Small Business Toby Perkins was given a first-hand look at City of York Council’s backing for entrepreneurs and traders and help for people to find employment.

He then chaired the first meeting of a business think-tank of Yorkshire Labour councils at the York’s authority’s HQ.

He met staff and job-hunters at employment and skills support service York Learning, formerly Future Prospects.

Mr Perkins was told about 100 people from York who began a Government programme aimed at getting them into work two years ago were now back where they started and still without jobs.

He said: “Supporting people with no access to the job market is one of the most important things a council can do, because the barriers to them finding work have to be removed.”

The Chesterfield MP also met the council’s economic development team to discuss its work with small businesses.

He said: “York Learning is a great idea, and the Yorkshire and Humber Labour Councillors Business Network’s aim is to share ideas and see if they can be implemented in other parts of Yorkshire.

Mr Perkins said access to financing remained the main obstacle for small businesses, saying: “The current banking structure is not delivering for growing businesses and is holding back untapped growth – banks say times are tough, they won’t lend to business, and that exacerbates the impact of the recession.

“This is why Labour wants to introduce a regional banking network, allowing local businesses to discuss their needs with local bank managers and access loans.”

York council leader James Alexander said: “We are working to support new business start-ups and the growth of existing York businesses to ensure the city provides a range of new job opportunities for residents. The role small businesses perform for the nation’s economy and in getting the country back to growth should not be underestimated.”

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Councillors Business Network Launched in York

On Thursday 20 June, Toby Perkins MP the Shadow Small Business Minister, and National Chairman of the Labour Cllrs Business Network, visited York.  His visit was in three parts.

Council best practice

BNMz9QUCQAAlRtOToby met with the Leader of the Council, James Alexander and senior officers to speak about the work that the Labour authority is doing to promote jobs and growth.

This included a tour of the remarkable Future Prospects centre which helps support local unemployed people back into work.  Toby met with staff and users of the centre and was particularly impressed by the Enterprise Club which helps unemployed people into self-employment by providing an opportunity to practice selling at local market stalls.


BNPSRhXCcAAuU-mLocal business visit

Mr Perkins then met with Sophie Jewett, a local entrepreneur and proprietor of the new “York Cocoa House” a unique cafe where everything – including the sandwiches and the ale – contains chocolate!

Toby and Sophie discussed the problem of access to finance for successful businesses who want to grow and Labour’s plan for regional banks to address this crisis.


Launch of local LCBN

BNNKvCzCAAAEL0YBack at York Civic Offices, Perkins launched the Yorkshire and Humber Region Labour Cllrs Business Network.  The LCBN was established by Toby, Chuka Umunna and Hilary Benn in London in late 2012.  This year Toby has been travelling around the country to launch a regional network in every area and Labour Cllrs from across the region attended the launch in York.

The group heard three presentations.

Firstly, James Alexander spoke about York’s work to bring inward investment to the City and how they are helping unemployed people to find work.

BNNPa3RCIAA6ZH4Secondly, Jacqui Williams form Wakefield described how her Council provides one-to-one support for local small business and their ambitious plans (which were in fact exceeded) of creating 100 new apprenticeships in 100 days.

Finally, Cllr Leigh Bramall of Sheffield shared his city’s best practice, which included the Rise Sheffield plan which links graduates from the two local universities to the SME markets.  This ensures that local small businesses can access the talent they need to grow.


After these presentations the full group discussed various issues around small business in the region, including:



  • The importance of close mentoring to support infant small businesses
  • The idea that Councils should not be a “fortress” and should be open to working with other towns and partners
  • The impact of business rates on local businesses
  • The importance of good high streets policies to encourage and retain local businesses, this includes city centre living to help populate high streets
  • The value of business improvement districts.

At the end of the meeting, Cllr Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills & Development on Sheffield City Council was elected as the LCBN “Champion” for the region and will coordinate future meetings and discussion amongst local Councils.


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Greek 2

Greek Deli-cious opens on Whit Moor

Greek 1Chesterfield’s first Greek deli was opened today by local MP Toby Perkins, as potential customers and passers-by were welcomed in to sample some of the dishes on offer.

‘My Little Greek Deli’ is the brainchild of Vicky Kadis and serves traditional homemade Greek dishes, offering a fresher alternative to fast food.

Toby Perkins MP said:

‘I am delighted to open ‘My Little Greek Deli’ and wish Vicky well in her new venture.  It is vitally important that small businesses are given the support they need to boost our economy, and the more businesses that flourish in Chesterfield the more vibrant our local economy will be. 

‘My little Greek Deli’ offers something new to the Chesterfield food scene and I look forward to visiting on a regular basis’

Vicky said:

‘Greek food is close to my heart and I have long wanted to open a deli to share traditional food and recipes with friends and customers. 

I’m really pleased Toby Perkins MP agreed to open the deli and hope he enjoyed the ‘taste of Greece’ on opening day’.

Mr Perkins sampled stuffed vine leaves, Greek dips and pitta, moussaka, meat balls, olives and traditional Greek accompaniments and the sweet syrupy baklava.  And the verdict?

Put it this way, two large take-out cartons of moussaka were seen to leave the premises with the MP…

Greek 2

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Award winning micro brewery gets a Raw deal from the banks

RAW 2Local MP, Toby Perkins, recently visited a micro brewery in Chesterfield to hear first hand from owner Dave Hemstock, about the difficulties he has faced securing funding to expand his successful business.

Dave prides himself on brewing quality beers to the highest standards, and echoes this in the company name RAW: only raw ingredients are used in the manufacture of the beers.  Raw won widespread acclaim at the SIBA annual event in Sheffield in March, coming out as overall winner in marketing design category.

But despite this Dave has struggled to gain finance to expand his business and his well thought out and innovative business plan has fallen on deaf ears.

Toby Perkins said:

“As Shadow Small Business Minister I know that access to finance is the biggest issue facing small business today.  All the big banks make their decisions based on the same computer formulas.  So if even successful small businesses get turned down once, they often do not have an alternative.

The next One Nation Labour government will deliver a strong and more diverse lending market to overcome this, but in the meantime I will do everything I can to support local employers.  In the case of RAW I have linked them up with the innovative website Funding Circle and I hope this will help them get the finance they need.”

RAW 1Dave Hemstock  said:

“The big banks don’t want to know.  My requests have been rejected by computers at the banks’ headquarters without even the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting in Chesterfield.  We just want a chance to build on the success the company.”


SIBA is the “Society of Independent Brewers” and SIBA BeerX 2013, three-day celebration of all that is Great about British beer and the British independent brewing industry

Raw won ‘best total design concept’ for across the board marketing design

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Chesterfield MP votes against the Badger Cull

Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins, last week voted in Parliament continued badger cull trials in Gloucestershire and Somerset in an attempt to find a solution to the problem of tuberculosis in cattle.

Along with his Labour colleagues Perkins voted against the anti-science badger cull but unfortunately – due to Tory and Lib Dem backing – MPs voted 298 to 237 in favour of continuing the culls.

Toby Perkins explained:

Bovine TB is a terrible disease.  Last year alone 28,000 cattle were slaughtered in England and the Government estimates that its cost to taxpayers will reach £1 billion over the next ten years. The decision to proceed with a cull, however, is the wrong one.


My colleague Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, secured Opposition Day debate yesterday on the badger cull. Labour’s argument during this debate focussed on the scientific evidence that has been presented to us. The science tells us that a cull could make bovine TB worse. After 10 years work testing and researching culling the Independent Scientific Group concluded in 2007 that ‘badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.’

A cull would be bad for badgers, bad for farmers and bad for taxpayers. Each cull will cost farmers £1.4 million, and the Government’s own impact assessment shows those costs to farmers will outweigh the benefits. Bovine TB will increase in the next 2 years as the shooting displaces badgers and the policing costs, paid by the taxpayer, will balloon to £4 million.

I am proud to say that I voted against the badger cull last week. Unfortunately, the Tories and Lib Dems joined forces to push ahead with the badger cull and whilst I am very disappointed by the result of this vote I was heartened by the many emails and letters I received from local people concerned about animal welfare.

My Labour colleagues and I will continue to call on the Government to take a science led approach to dealing with this terrible disease.”

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No More Page 3

Perkins Shows Support for the ‘No More Page 3’ Campaign

Today Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins added his name to a list of MP’s signatures calling for the removal of the topless model feature from The Sun. The campaign started in the summer when actress and writer Lucy Holmes found she couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that the largest female image in The Sun was of a young woman showing her breasts for men, even though Jessica Ennis had just won her gold Olympic medal.

The campaign has gathered cross-party support with over 115 MP’s becoming signatories to a letter addressed to the Editor of The Sun – Dominic Mohan. The letter reads:

No More Page 3

Dear Dominic Mohan,

We write to lend our support to the No More Page 3 Campaign. As MPs our role is to serve the people, and we cannot remain silent in the presence of a page that limits and misrepresents over half the population.

The largest female image in our most widely-read newspaper is of a semi-naked young woman. She is there purely for the sexual gratification of men. This is unacceptable.

We want to live in a society where the most widely-read newspaper is one that respects women. Instead, The Sun publishes Page 3, which reduces women to objects. It reduces men to objectifiers. And it reduces this country to one that upholds 1970s sexist values. We’re better than this.

Please remove these damaging pictures from your newspaper.

In the UK over 300,000 women are sexually assaulted and 60,000 are raped every year. Studies show that 1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The campaign centres on the idea that with these sorts of statistics in mind, it cannot be wise to keep perpetuating the notion that women are sexual objects.

Perkins explains:

“I completely respect the freedom of the press and do not believe that politicians/parliament should be directly involved what is published in newspapers.  This is why the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign has been supported by so many people, it does not call for state censorship but is a grassroots movement of men and women asking The Sun to do the right thing.

I believe that page 3 pictures are a draconian concept which completely misrepresents the role of women in a modern society.

As a father and a husband, I want to be part of a society in which women are respected and valued, as opposed to being objectified in the press. I have therefore become a signatory to the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign to urge Dominic Mohan to drop the page 3 format.”

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Toby Perkins MP with the Synergy team

Academy looks to Score Talent

Trailblazing academy looks to score new talent

 Legendary ex-Spireites Mark Jules, Andy ‘Bruno’ Morris and former Chesterfield FC Academy Manager Dave Bentley have shown Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins how they intend to help more Chesterfield children achieve their goal.

Toby Perkins MP with the Synergy team

Toby Perkins MP with the Synergy team

The trio have joined a local sports academy, Synergy, backed by Chesterfield training firm Centre for Business Development, and are currently recruiting 24 talented young apprentices. Successful applicants will receive top-class football coaching from ex-Spireite aces Jules and Morris, train for FA-recognised coaching qualifications as well as pursue academic studies.

It’s hoped that several apprentices will go on to work as professional footballers after the two-year course whist others will benefit from learning a comprehensive range of transferable skills  to secure employment elsewhere in the sporting world.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said: “It was a real pleasure to hear about the big plans Synergy have for 24 keen young apprentices.

“It’s the toughest time in years for young people to get onto the ladder of work, so I particularly welcome this exciting new opportunity and commend Bruno, Mark and Dave for bringing their wealth of expertise to this project.”

Synergy Head of Coaching Mark Jules said: “It was great to show Toby the great plans Synergy has for the cream of the budding young footballing talent in the North Derbyshire area.

“This exciting new project will allow us to use our skills and knowledge to continue working in grassroots football and further support the profession.”

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Toby Perkins MP: "Providing a top-class education to all is fundamental to a One Nation society"

Toby addresses national conference on backing Britain’s small businesses

On Wednesday 12 June 2013, Toby Perkins MP, the Shadow Small Business Minister, addressed the “Supporting Business for Growth Conference” arranged by the organisation Government Knowledge in Central London.

You can read his full speech below:

Backing British Business
15.20 – 12/6/2013
Supporting Business for Growth Conference 2013
Garden Suite, One Drummond Gate, London, SW1V 2QQ


Thank you very much for that introduction; it’s a great pleasure to be with you here today.  I’d like to thank Government Knowledge for putting together this conference.  They do great work bringing together networks within the public, private, third and academic sectors to discuss and share policy ideas – which is helpful because the Labour Party has quite a few policies to share … particularly in my area of small business.

I’d like to take you through some of these today.

I am Labour’s Shadow Small Business Minister, and as you can see I am a very big small business minister.

Toby Perkins MP: "Providing a top-class education to all is fundamental to a One Nation society"In a similar way though the businesses I work with are often small, independent or family firms, the collective footprint they leave on our economy and national way of life is huge.   Ninety per cent of people moving from unemployment into private sector work do so with small businesses and within the ranks of the almost five million small firms lie the seven per cent of high growth businesses that create more than half of all new jobs.

So growth and small business success go hand in hand and we cannot deliver excellent public services or a fairer one nation economy without the contribution they make to the Exchequer.

This is why in his very first conference speech as Labour leader, Ed Miliband expressed his determination to make Labour the Party of small business.  I was personally very delighted by this new focus … not just because it gave me an interesting Shadow Ministerial job … but because my career to date has been almost exclusively in small or medium sized fast growing firms.

Indeed, I haven’t always been a politician, in fact prior to 2010 I was actually a human being.  After leaving school at 17 to take on a telesales job I worked in the private sector for my entire career, eventually setting up my own small businesses which supplied bespoke rugby kit to schools and teams.  I have seen firsthand how British small businesses need an active government, resolutely on their side to survive and thrive.


The main driver of this new focus has been Labour’s Small Business Taskforce.  The Taskforce was established in 2010 by Ed Miliband and was given a single question to answer: how can the next Labour government make Britain the best place it possibly can be to set up and grow a small business?

The Taskforce was initially chaired by Nigel Doughty – co-founder of the Doughty Hanson private equity fund and Chairman of Nottingham Forest Football Club.  Nigel was a man who embodied the values of responsible capitalism and was a great link between the Labour Party and the business community.

Following his tragic death in February 2011 the Taskforce has been led by Bill Thomas the former Senior Vice President of Hewlett Packard and the driving force behind the International Centre for Programme Management at Cranfield University.  Bill also runs his own small business with his wife in the hospitality industry in Derbyshire.

The Taskforce – which is not made up of politicians, but instead includes leading businesspeople, entrepreneurs and academics – has involved widespread consultation across the UK with individual business people, a plethora of business organisations from the FSB and British Chambers of Commerce to the CBI and Institute of Directors, and also with the trade unions and sectoral trade bodies.  New academic research was produced and international best practice was studied during visits to Singapore, Germany and the United States.

Regional banks

The 100 recommendations in the final report cover the full spectrum of small business policy and they are as innovative as they are diverse.  But when I go around the country to speak to small businesses about them – I hosted a consultation in Reading this Monday, and was in The Wirral last week – one idea seems to excite the business community above all of the others.

The issue of lack of access to finance for small firms remains one of the most pressing facing us today. To address the fact that net business lending has fallen every year since 2008 and continues to place British firms at a huge competitive disadvantage the Taskforce has examined how we can transform both culture and performance of British banking.

Our European competitors, particularly Germany, have maintained higher levels of small business lending in recent years with commercial banks which are focused on supporting the real economy alongside trading profitably, and in fact the German Sparkassen oversaw, in stark contrast to our banks, no reduction in net lending during the global economic crisis in 2008, and indeed analysing that period now they also saw no increase in bad debts from money lent at that time.

The Taskforce report analyses how the local lending principles of the German Sparkassen savings banks could be brought to life in a British context, and following this Ed Miliband, has committed to creating a network of regional banks under the next Labour government.

We are proposing a new generation of local Business banks with local decision making at their heart, delivering local or sector expertise that is so lacking currently.

Whilst we will look to replicate some features of the German system we do recognise that it would be impossible to create an exact replica of the German system.  The German Sparkassen have been around for over two centuries and are as ingrained and cherished within German culture as the BBC and NHS are within ours.

However, we can take the two key components which make them a success – localism and permanency – and make these the guiding principles of our British “Sparks” banks.

We are consulting on how this will work, one option is to offer licences to create a “Spark Bank” within a certain small geographical area – for example a city like Newcastle Upon-Tyne or a smaller county. These licences would be geographically exclusive, and may potentially be purely private or a public/ private partnership but would be run on a commercial basis within the private sector.

Early discussions indicate that many challenger banks see that they could offer a bridge into the market that is not currently available.

The terms of the licence would ensure the banks remain local.  They would not be able to expand out of there designated region and would have to take lending decisions locally.  This would offer a real alternative in the lending market.

Of course, one key issue for any new entrant to the banking market alongside the need to improve business bank account portability, is that businesses need a certainty that the bank will be around for a long time to come before they go to them for a loan.  In Germany, the Sparkassen are supported by the state but not controlled by it.  The boards of the banks are appointed by the municipalities and then left to run the bank on a commercial basis.

We have to look carefully how this principle can best be implemented in a British context. Councils could also offer their premises and support to help the banks get established.

I believe these ideas really do have the potential to unlock the promise of our small businesses.  It demonstrates what a One Nation Labour government would be all about.  Active not passive,  there to provide the support British businesses know their competitors enjoy, but rooted in the pragmatic best interests of supporting the growth of our firms, delivered and devised by people with a long track record of business success.

Other ideas

Elsewhere within the Small Business Taskforce final report are ideas on the huge range of issues which are regularly brought to me by small businesses.  The Labour Party is actively examining these ideas with a view to developing our business offer at the next General Election.

One area of interest is the way R & D tax credits work in this country.  It is right that government forgoes some of its income to support businesses who are investing in and developing innovative technology, but currently too much of this money ends up with only a gentle nod in the direction of the sort of principles  that led to the tax relief being introduced.

We need to see how we can ensure that money available for supporting innovation really delivers.

We also recognise that self employment is a challenging but empowering path out of unemployment and we want to see more people setting up their own business.  The Taskforce makes suggestions as to how the government can overcome the UK’s poor international ranking in terms of entrepreneurial attitudes, activities and aspirations.

Their report calls for a greater focus on this career path both in training programmes and online resources and by normalising self employment as a careers option in our education establishments.  The Taskforce recommendations also include childcare support for self employed people on the same basis as those in work, dedicated programmes to reach those groups in society who face particular barriers to self employment and a financial cushion for those starting out.

There is a feeling amongst many businesses I speak to that young people they would like to recruit simply don’t have the skills they are looking for.  A closer link between businesses and teachers is essential to overcome this and so I am also very drawn to the idea of having a designated place on the board of school governors for local private sector employers – in the same way there are designated places for the local authority – to achieve this.

The Taskforce report also reveals a damning failure of ambition on procurement.  When one in every seven pounds of GDP is spent by the government in this country it is the biggest single lever government has at its disposal to support business growth.

But too often excessive aggregation, unnecessary pre tender qualification conditions and lack of attention to the wider economic value of government spending being targeted at boosting the UK economy means that we get less value for government spend than many of our competitors.

We have already committed to ensuring that government contracts over £1 million have a commitment to apprenticeships that will see more UK jobs and skills delivered on the back of UK government spending as was so successfully trialled during the Olympic construction project.

No longer should the BIS department, based just over the road from here, be seen as the sole voice for business in Whitehall.  The next Labour government will ensure that every Department looks for the value to the UK economy of money spent on departmental procurement.

This work has started already in opposition with Chuka Umunna and Michael Dugher heading up a 13 strong cross departmental procurement team that ensures that these issues are considered in every shadow ministerial team from Transport, to Health and from Transport to Energy, delivering taxpayer value and supporting British industry should go hand in hand.

In addition the Taskforce recommends also supporting these businesses to export and grow abroad, particularly through a network of ‘export hubs’ in major overseas cities.

Furthermore, the Taskforce recommends radical reforms to the machinery of government.  They propose the creation of a small business agency at the heart of government of comparable in influence to its US counterpart and directly accountable to the Secretary of State.  This agency would be responsible for co-ordinating, streamlining and signposting government services to help grow the small business sector.

The Taskforce also looked at the UK’s insolvency system and recommended changes designed to increase confidence in the process through modernisation. I am pleased to say that some of these have now been brought forward by the government, but we still need to see a real commitment to protecting creditors and the vast majority of responsible businesses by ensuring that fraudulent ‘dodgy’ directors are prosecuted and prevented from bringing down other successful firms, insolvency experts believe we could save an estimated 2,000 more businesses a year.



So I hope that you can see there is a considerable amount of thought going into the difference that an active government approach could make to growth in Britain.

I think our alternative for growth is ambitious, innovative and creative. We will not sit back and wait for growth but be active in working on the side of our country’s greatest asset, the dynamism of our small business sector.

The ideas recommended in Labour’s small business taskforce are now being consulted on and as I mentioned earlier I and colleagues in the business team have been travelling around the country, speaking to small groups of businesses in the communities they serve and hearing their thoughts on the challenges facing our country. I truly feel that small businesses across the country are beginning to see that we have some exciting ideas to help them fulfil their promise, and the promise of Britain.


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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email to make a booking.

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