Archive | November, 2013


WATCH: Shadow business minister encouraged by Harlow businesses

Shadow small business minister, Toby Perkins MP came to Harlow on Monday morning to speak to Harlow businesses.

Mr Perkins spoke at a business breakfast hosted by Labour’s prospective candidate, Suzy Stride.

He then went on to Parndon Mill where he spoke to many of the fascinating businesses who operate from there.

You can watch an interview with Toby in Harlow below.


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Chesterfield MP backs call for overhaul of NHS care funding

Toby Perkins MP is calling for a complete overhaul of NHS continuing care after a new report showed the system was shrouded in mystery and disarray.

NHS continuing care is a funding package to provide free health care for people with severe health needs. Toby Perkins MP attended the launch of a shocking report after the first ever Inquiry into NHS continuing care, conducted by Parkinson’s UK and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Parkinson’s, uncovered huge failings in the system.

After meeting people living with Parkinson’s at the launch of the ‘Failing to Care’ report in the House of Lords on Wednesday November 27, Toby Perkins MP vowed to support calls for the Government to simplify NHS continuing care so it supports those who need it most.

ParkinsonsToby said: “It’s unacceptable that so many people are being left with no choice but to pick up the cost of specialised care they can’t live without, when they are in the advanced stages of serious health conditions like Parkinson’s.

“The Government must take action now to make sure vulnerable people and their families are given the support they are entitled to, and stop the additional suffering they are being put through by the current NHS continuing care system.”

Steve Ford, Chief Executive of Parkinson’s UK said: “Putting people with Parkinson’s in a position where they may have to sell their own homes to pay for care is a tragic NHS failing.

“People are being put through hell by trying to access financial support they desperately need, in a system so complex even health professionals struggle to understand it.”

Information, advice and support is available through the Parkinson’s UK free confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303 or by visiting

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The newly refurbished Chesterfield Market Hall

Destination Chesterfield: In London

This afternoon (26 November 2013) Toby Perkins MP will be welcoming business leaders and investors to Parliament for an event show casing the huge potential for business growth in Chesterfield.

Organised in conjunction with Destination Chesterfield the event will demonstrate why businesses should choose to locate to Chesterfield and demonstrated the potential for investors.  The aim is to continue to see jobs and economic growth in our town.

Toby with North East Derbyshire MP, Natascha Engel, who will also be at the event.

Toby with North East Derbyshire MP, Natascha Engel, who will also be at the event.

Toby Perkins explained:

“Chesterfield is a fantastic destination for business investment.  Our town centre in particular has so much to offer businesses.  Retail occupancy has actually risen during the recession and has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country. 

This is supported both by large high street names like Debenhams, TK Maxx and Hobby Craft but also be a thriving traditional market square – one of the largest in the country – and an historic Market Hall which has just received a £4m refurbishment.

Our event in Parliament is the perfect opportunity to show case this opportunity to business leaders from across the UK.  It will also demonstrate the political support for Destination Chesterfield, with other local MPs, the Council and Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, all supporting the event.”

The newly refurbished Chesterfield Market Hall

The newly refurbished Chesterfield Market Hall

Chesterfield is a good strong investment choice well connected in the centre of the country on the M1 and good mainline rail links.  It is affordable for businesses in terms of property, rents and labour costs and offers great lifestyle options with the Peak District National Park within 10 minutes of the town.

The town also has one of the largest regeneration schemes in the country Chesterfield Waterside, currently 50 largest scheme in the UK, is a mixed used development that will include offices, leisure and housing in a new waterside location that will link the railway station to the town centre.


First phase of housing starts on site early next year and announcements are expected on the first office schemes soon.

We also have an Enterprise Zone at Markham Vale on the M1, this site offers excellent opportunities for Logistics and Manufacturing companies and we have already seen investment from Andrew Page Ltd, Ready Egg, Squadron Medical and MSE Hillier to name a few.

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Toby in the House of Commons

My speech on Derbyshire Fire Service provision

Provision of Fire services in Derbyshire

despatchboxDerbyshire fire and rescue service provide the people of Derbyshire with stellar service and protection. We depend on them in fire, accident and flood.

They work in a County that has huge variances; from the busy City of Derby and largest town of Chesterfield, other smaller urban bases and large swathes of rural, hilly and remote parts of the Peak District.

Firefighters enjoy the respect and admiration of us all, not just for their untold bravery that sees them run towards burning buildings whilst the rest of us urgently back away but also because of their amazing life saving work and the horrors we know they witness during Road Traffic Accidents.

Firefighters everywhere are admired but in Derbyshire alongside the geographical challenges that face our force, there are many causes for pride.

They have won awards for the standard of care they provide to citizens and have worked to identify individuals at greatest risk and provided additional measures to protect them. The numbers of fires have reduced in recent years due to their tremendously proactive approach to fire prevention made possible by their outreach work fitting smoke detectors and educating citizens.

But Derbyshire faces an unusually high level of fire deaths in comparison to other counties. In 2012-13; 10 people were killed in fires in Derbyshire (one of the highest in the country) In Derbyshire there have been five fires in the past 3 and a half years in which children have died.

Now Mr Speaker, we know that Derbyshire Fire Authority and indeed all services in Derbyshire are operating in the most extreme and difficult financial circumstances imaginable.

The Minister represents a department that I think has been the most cowardly in all of government, because of all the big spending departments it has been the one that devolves the most of its funding and meanwhile it has taken the largest share of the cuts.

So at a time when other departmental budgets have been squeezed, the DCLG budgets have been crushed. Passing on all of the tough choices of austerity to Council leaders and Fire authorities around the country. Leaving it to Council leaders to decide whether to cut libraries or social care, whether to leave potholes in the road or cut community safety budgets, to decide whether to cut back on firefighters or reduce the fire prevention work.

I find it nauseating to hear the Sec of state praised by the Chancellor for agreeing to take on the largest cuts when he faces so few of the tough decisions and leaves others to face the petitions and campaigns against them.

And lets look at what that means to Derbyshire Fire Authority, an authority that has already delivered £3m in efficiency measures from an efficiency programme started in 2010.

But the Authority face a 40% reduction in funding between 2011/12 and 2015/16, to a 24/7 service that will have around 60 full time firefighters on duty at any one time.

So when we scrutinise the changes proposed to the Fire Service by Derbyshire’s ‘Fit to Respond’ document it must be viewed in this appalling context. And the true architect of these cuts’ is the Minister, the sec of state and the PM who has chosen that the cuts to the fire authority should outstrip the cuts faced by almost any public service budget.

They could have made different choices, they chose to reduce the tax bill of million pound earners and wasted billions with their botched Royal Mail privatisation, their £3Bn NHS re-organisation has seen service levels fall while the budgets remain constant, I could go on, but politics is all about choices and they will answer for theirs when the day comes.

The impact on Derbyshire is stark- In the report’s own words it will see the service deliver ‘less for less’ and in the words of the Derbyshire FBU ‘we think that these proposals can in no way, give the service to the same level of resilience.”

At the moment a fire engine will be at a life risk incident within 10 minutes 3 quarters of the timeand at those deemed as most vulnerable in over 80% of cases. These plans would see this drop to 66%.

Last year they responded to 565 life risk incidents now a third (about 190 times) you would not see a fire engine within 10 minutes. Can you imagine Mr Speaker lives in danger and a 1 in 3 chance of the engine failing to turn up within 10 minutes.

The campaigns are starting up across Derbyshire to send the strongest message imaginable to the Fire Authority about the views of people in Derbyshire. In Staveley, in my and my Hon Friend for Derbyshire NE constituencies, people are campaigning to save the station that was built just three years ago.

I received an email today from Catherine Atkinson about the campaign that she and people across Long Eaton are waging to halt the closure of their station.

And of course in Chesterfield people are mystified and concerned about the plans for our town.

I was there as a Councillor for the Rother ward in Chesterfield in 2009 when the old Whittington Moor fire station was closed, and the new one was built at the Donkins roundabout, at a cost of £4.5 million.

We were told that it was a better venue for the service, closer to the motorway and to the area that had the most fires and when the Chesterfield retained unit was disbanded, the public were assured they would still be provided for by the two fire engines at Staveley and back up from Dronfield and Clay Cross. Under the new plans Dronfield and Staveley will disappear; and to allow the service to respond to these closures the brand new fire station will be moved a mile back up the road (I’m not making this up) to Whittington Moor, precisely where the original station was.

The Fire Authority tell us they want to spend £4.3 M replacing the £4.5 M station that still has its first coat of paint and unsurprisingly they will take a hit on the resale value. They estimate that a used fire station might get them a £1M but frankly I believe even that might be optimistic.

So where do these plans come from? Well Council papers show a variety of tough decisions ducked by Derbyshire County Council in the dying embers of its first Tory administration for 28 years. They left the Council sitting on a financial timebomb and left the tough choices until after the election. Was the consultation always designed to lead to this report? Certainly it was ready at the first meeting of the new Derbyshire Fire Authority and presented as the solution to the funding crisis that faced the authority,

The Fire Authority quote as their justification the response to the 2012/13 consultation launched by the Conservative Fire Authority shortly before the historic and huge Labour victory in Derbyshire in 2013.

This masterpiece of push polling included, as justification by the authority, that when the public was asked ‘if the service continues to face restrictions on its budget would you support the principle of matching the service’s resources to the level of risk in each area?”

Unsurprisingly 80% of the public responded to that extremely leading question by saying ‘yes’ but to use that as a justification for what we are discussing today is ludicrous.

Maybe if they had asked: “do you support us digging into the reserves to spend £4.3M on a new station to replace the £4.5M station that we build four years ago and moving back to precisely where we were before we started this nonsense” they might have got a different response.

But frankly Mr Speaker, I dont care where it came from, I only care where it goes now.

 Its not just Chesterfield and North Derbyshire that has a major problem.

The Ascot Drive fire station had a £3 million refurbishment in March 2012, that will be closed. Buxton was opened in 2011, at a cost of £3.5 million, that will go. Illkeston was also only opened in 2009,its going to go.

The merger of the 3 stations in Derby would cost £1 million and it is stated that the overall outcome of building a new station and closing three would be cost neutral but at what cost to service?

The publication of the desired locations for the new stations enables the current owners of the land to significantly increase their sale price, costing the tax payer yet more cash.

Financially it is illogical, in service terms inadequate, it means 108 FEWER fulltime firefighters overall more reliance on retained firefighters and 30 Operational Community Safety Officers.

Where will these retained firefighters come from? On average it takes 6 months from the day of recruitment until a retained firefighter is fully trained and ready to fulfil their role. Working as a retained firefighter requires that individual to be within 5 minutes of the fire station location for 120 hours a week and the allowance they receive for this equates to around 50p an hour. There are already difficulties in recruiting and these changes are going to require a significant increase in recruitment. This proposal does not seem to have taken into account the impact on retention or the cost of recruiting all the replacements.

 I have worked with the FBU to assess the impact on existing retained firefighters and it makes sobering reading

–          For the current 13 staff that work at Duffield fire station ONLY 2 can make the 5 minute ‘turn in time’ for the new proposed station at Milford; the other 11 staff would need to relocate to keep their jobs.

–          None of the Dronfield current retained firefighters are able or willing to be within the 5 minute parameter of Eckington fire station.

–          Chapel en le Frith has 11 staff, NONE of whom can make the ‘turn in’ time or are willing to relocate nearer to Furness Vale.

–          There is a similar story in New Mills, Alfreton& Ripley

Derbyshire Fire Service is offering a ‘relocation’ package, the FBU expect that many firefighters will not take it due to family or personal commitments.

In just 2011 the Emergency Cover Review done by Derbyshire Fire and rescue service stated that the current fire stations are in the right locations. Why would you move your family away from schools and work, when it isn’t your main job and decisions about the future locations of fire stations seem to change so arbitrarily and so quickly?

If these changes are implemented it will effectively mean a recruitment freeze for 10 years into the fire service as a fulltime firefighter. A huge deskilling of firefighters as a whole generation is told ‘no vacancies here’.

The location of stations, appliances and firefighters are crucial in response times. It is both the weight and speed of response that is most crucial in saving lives and preventing serious injury for both the public and firefighters.  The fewer fire stations there are, the longer it will take firefighters to attend the incidents and the worse the condition of the fire.

There is also the risk of flooding as we know from the great floods of Chesterfield in 2007 when over 500 homes were flooded but mercifully no lives were lost, precisely the extreme weather which  means help is needed in numerous places at once covering  a wide geographical area across the county but centred on one service.

On the Sunday Politics Show the Prime Minister responded to a copy of the Derbyshire Times showing the scale of cuts facing us in Derbyshire by saying that: “I praise local councils for what they have done so far to make efficiencies without hitting front line services.”

That was (to put it kindly) a factual inexactitude of breathtaking audacity.

The front line is being hit, in the Police, in social services, in libraries, in Sure starts, in A&E and most certainly in the fire service.

No wonder the Conservatives have chosen to delete their no frontline cuts pledge from their website, they wont remove it from our memories as easily.

Could anyone claim the closure of 11 fire stations, loss of 16 fire engines and 108 full time firefighters is protecting frontline services!

This plan doesn’t just mean millions spent up front on the basis of savings in future, it doesn’t just mean millions spent just a few years ago will now go up in smoke; doesn’t just mean dedicated fire-fighters thrown out of work; doesn’t just mean years of experience lost and thousands to spend in recruitment costs, it means people in Derbyshire being less safe than they were.

In his response to a letter from my Hon Friend from NE Derbyshire, the Chief Fire officer admitted that the huge capital outlays were early action and would be funded by raiding the reserves to spend money today to save tomorrow. With the Labour party committed to a fairer funding formula for the fire service Derbyshire should rethink their plans, and members across the house should send the Minister the strongest possible message, these plans will reduce the service, will increase the likelihood of loss of life, will make Derbyshire people less safe and are illogical in financial and service terms. The people of Derbyshire and our heroes in the fire service deserve better than the cuts imposed upon them by this government, better than the vision for our service envisioned by this document, its time to start again.





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Toby Perkins MP, here pictured addressing a public meeting on the future of the Post Office earlier this year

MP urges public: “Make your views known on risky Post Office move”

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has voiced ‘serious concerns’ about plans to relocate the town’s central Post Office into WH Smith’s Pavements Centre premises, and is calling on the public to speak up on the move.

Toby Perkins MP, here pictured addressing a public meeting on the future of the Post Office earlier this year

Toby Perkins MP, here pictured addressing a public meeting on the future of the Post Office earlier this year

A Post Office spokesman claimed the move is needed to save costs and is being carried out at 70 of their 373 ‘Crown Branches’ – larger stand-alone outlets, such as the branch in Chesterfield market place. However, Mr Perkins has blasted the plans, saying they could “jeopardise the accessibility of the service”. He continued: “The Crown Post Office in New Square is a vital service and iconic local landmark – I’d hate to see it disappear. I’m very concerned that this proposal would lead to a reduced level of expertise and a lower profile for important Post Office services. It’s hard to see how this service, which is often extremely busy, would function in the smaller space there is at WH Smith so I will be speaking to both organisations to ask how they envisage this set-up working.

“Whilst the Post Office is a commercial operation and needs to balance its books in order to maintain the service it offers, the firm does have a vital social role, working with a number of vulnerable client groups such as older people or those without recourse to accessing services online. That’s why I’ll be fighting to ensure my constituents don’t lose out.”

An open public meeting, which Mr Perkins is intending to attend, will be scheduled and advertised shortly.

The Post Office is now consulting with the public on these proposals until the 13th January. Should you wish to voice your concerns about these plans, you can write to Mr Perkins at 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF or email him on and he will take up issues with Post Office management.


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Toby Perkins’ speech to mark Entrepeneur’s Week

On Monday 18 November, Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield and Shadow Small Business Minister, delivered a speech to mark the start of international Entrepeneur’s Week.

The keynote address was delivered to an audience of entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the entrepreneurship space.  The event was put together by UnLtd – a leading supporter of social entrepreneurs –  RBS and the newly established Think Tank the Centre for Entrepreneurs.

You can read Toby’s full speech below:


I am delighted to be here this afternoon and to have the opportunity to start the 2013 Entrepreneurs Week with so many people who’ve been there and done it themselves.

37027Since its creation in 2008, Entrepreneur’s Week has grown as rapidly as any gazelle business.  In the last five years, more than 10 million people from 102 countries have participated in entrepreneurial-related activities during the Week.  Last year alone 88 countries hosted Global Entrepreneurship Week and generated over 32,000 activities.  The importance of the Week in demonstrating to people all around that world that, whatever their background, they too can follow their entrepreneurial dreams should never be underestimated.

So I really am grateful to UnLtd for inviting me here today.  We all know the great work they do to provide innovative support to social enterprises, as a nation and economy we all value the businesses and individuals they support – those whose ventures are firmly rooted in delivering positive social change.

As someone who has set up two and a half businesses, I can assure you that the added value and contribution of entrepreneurs is right at the heart of Labour’s vision of a One Nation economy.  In September 2011 we established “Next Generation” or “NG” – Labour’s first Entrepreneurs’ Network which aims to support and showcase the best of British innovation, new business ideas and inspirational business leaders.

The network brings together high profile speakers and experts in supporting business and entrepreneurialism within an informal environment to meet other entrepreneurs and Labour’s Business team, and exchange new ideas and contacts. It is another chance for entrepreneurs to shape Labour’s thinking around an enterprise economy and enable the ideas from the community of entrepreneurs to be embedded at the heart of our policies.

Speakers at these events have included Samir Desai – Co-founder and CEO of Funding Circle; Sue Woodward OBE the Creative Director for both Manchester’s Commonwealth Games and Liverpool’s Capital of Culture; and from my own patch of North Derbyshire, Derek Mapp, a serial entrepreneur and founder of the Tom Cobleigh pub chain.

This kind of work fits perfectly with the vision set out by Ed Miliband in his very first conference speech as Labour Leader in 2010 when he first outlined his determination “to make Labour the party of enterprise and small business”.

And the need for government to promote a challenging small business led economy has never been more urgent:

  • There are nearly 5 million small businesses in the UK
  • Small businesses account for 99 per cent of all enterprises in the UK, 58.8 per cent of private sector employment and 48.8 per cent of private sector turnover
  • Small businesses employ an estimated 13.8 million people and have an estimated combined annual turnover of £1,500 billion

So encouraging and supporting new generations of ambitious small businesses will be a key part of One Nation Labour’s economic stratergy.  If we are to address the cost of living crisis, reduce our stubbornly high levels of unemployment and deliver a sustainable recovery we need the best environment for our small businesses to survive and thrive.

It is good that the issue of social mobility is back on the political agenda.  Labour believes entrepreneurs and social enterprise have a key role to play in fighting for social mobility by challenging conventional wisdom and breaking open new markets.

Our Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, has highlighted how previous attempts to improve social mobility have focussed far too much on the professions – getting more kids from deprived backgrounds into law and medicine has been seen as the way to radically improve their life chances.

These avenues remain important but for many young people – and I speak as someone who left school at 17 myself – the academic route won’t be right for them.

An entrepreneurial career, is an equally realistic path for social progress and this option must be normalised in schools.  We are exploring the idea of having a designated space for a business governor on the board of every school to help achieve this and I am pleased that it is a Labour Council, Waltham Forest, who are already rolling out such a scheme with the help of their local FSB.

As I alluded to a moment ago, I haven’t always been a politician, and before 2010 I could even have been described as a human being.  One of the reasons I was so delighted to be appointed as Ed’s Shadow Small Business Minister is because I have lived many of the problems I am now tasked with finding solutions for.

After leaving what I have already alluded to as a less than auspicious academic career, I took on a telesales job and continued to work in the private sector for my entire career up to 2010.  I eventually set up the third of my own small businesses in the Sportswear business, supplying and importing bespoke Rugby kit to Clubs, universities and schools and through an internet business, Club Rugby.

Alongside this work I was also involved in a social enterprise of my own.  Based in the area of Chesterfield I previously represented as a Borough Councillor, the Families First Children’s Nursery was a cooperative formed with investment from the last Labour Government.  Serving an area with significant deprivation, the nursery has overseen a dramatic improvement in Early Years Education.  And, in one of the proudest moments of my political career to date, I presented a certificate to the nursery in 2011 when it was the first nursery in the area to be named as “outstanding” by Ofsted.

Our nursery fulfilled three fundamental features of social enterprise success, namely it satisfied a need in the community; it had a strong social purpose and it had a sound business plan and was profitable.

Without any of these facets a social enterprise will struggle, and without the latter one, a sound business plan and a profit stream, there is every chance that a social enterprise will actually do more harm than good.

Whenever I speak to budding entrepreneurs who want to set up their own social enterprise I emphasise this point – they must have a clear plan to deliver a profit, which they can then use for social good.

From these experiences I have no doubt that social enterprises work and have an enormously valuable contribution to make to our national life.

So social enterprises and new businesses are a part of a landscape that is undergoing a cultural shift in the eyes of consumers and the public at large where it matters not just how much you make but how you made it.

From concerns about tax evasion, to how firms treat their staff, from business’s relationship with their suppliers to paying on time, and from the carbon footprint to company charities, customers expectations of the ethical capital a business has is an ever increasing factor in our purchasing and investment decisions.

Social enterprises can also have a huge influence on the behaviour of more traditional businesses … particularly when they can so clearly demonstrate that their model works.

In the past 12 months:

  • 38 per cent of social enterprises saw an increase in their turnover compared with 29 per cent of small businesses
  • More than half of social enterprises developed a new product or service, compared with 43% of SMEs.
  • And two-thirds of social enterprises currently project that their turnover will increase in the next two to three years, almost double the number of small businesses.

So the social enterprise sector is performing.  There are currently 70,000 social enterprises in the UK with this figure growing every year.  They contribute £18.5bn to the economy and employ almost one million people.  Crucially these jobs often come in the most deprived areas with over a third of all social enterprises working in the poorest of places.

This underlines that ethical capital is the not the enemy of the bottom line but can enhance it.

Obama’s first Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, has spoken publically about how capitalism “will be different” in the century after the 2008 crash.  Perhaps in the burgeoning social enterprise we are seeing the direction of this change, with ethical capital an integrated part of many more business models.

In the 21st century delivering long term productivity is not just a case of utilizing machines, cash, or skill.  In a world of switched-on consumers able to access a previously unimaginable amount of information online, there is an increasing demand on a firm to utilize all these resources without damaging the natural world, abusing the powerless, or taking from the future.

The reverse is also true.  Without ethical capital, industries face the problem that Lord Turner – former director of the CBI no less – has called “social uselessness.” A company socially useless to people, communities, and society will face more disruptive competition from insurgent social enterprises, a keener eye from regulators, and a growing suspicion from customers.

So we applaud your success and stand by you during your further mission to grow further and change the British economy for the better.

To achieve this we need to work in partnership to create a proper system of support and advice.  Almost exactly two years ago the coalition government scrapped Business Links – which despite its faults was a known, branded business support service which people could access for help.

We were promised a huge increase in mentoring to replace this, but this has proved as nebulous a concept as its critics suspected.

I recently discussed these issues with a large group of entrepreneurs and FSB members in Leicester.  They made it clear that to access support they need a clear, branded signpost, and that they believe government has a role to play in creating this.

This is unfortunately exactly what the government are failing to deliver.  Their support model is only reaching those already in the know and plugged into the system. This is shown by the fact that just 17% of those contacting the new MentorsMe site did so in order to find a mentor, while 67% wanted to become a mentor.  It is also demonstrated by where they chose to hold the first meeting of mentors … not Middlesbrough, Manchester or Milton Keynes but just down the road at the BIS offices in Westminster!

Mentors have a vital role to play but they are not a panacea to the problems of business support.  A wide and easily accessible programme is required.

Additionally, we have set up a regional Labour Cllrs Business Network in every area of England to allow local authorities to share ideas, resources and best practice around small business policy … Labour councils have also played a leading role in promoting the first ever Small Business Saturday on 7th December … our skills taskforce are looking at how we can deliver the skills businesses need … and we are examining exactly how Local Enterprise Partnerships can be beefed up to guarantee that they deliver regional growth for the areas that need it most.

I have already spoken about the need to normalise enterprise as a career path for our young people, particularly through the idea of business school governors. This has a skills dimension, a cultural dimension and is about highlighting all of the positive aspects of good business practice as much as we condemn bad practice.

This is underlined by Labour’s work on sales skills. Sales is a key business skill. An old adage of business is that until someone sells something nothing else happens. Yet despite a widespread acknowledgement of the importance of sales, it is as aspect of British business success which has had a Corinthian approach to its development.

Less than 1% of apprenticeships are offered in sales and the profession is often derided in popular culture. Academically our study of the art of sales is virtuall non-existent at graduate level and it has been written out of the Business Studies A level curriculum.

However, sales offers huge potential for people at all levels of acadmic ability and employs over two million people in the UK.

So we have studied best practice and identified many of the shortcoming during our policy development work which has taken in the role of sales skills at every level of the academic and business world.

The next Labour government will be willing to challenge vested interests and intervene to ensure broken markets become fair as well as genuinely free.

You can see this in our approach to the energy sector where consumers and businesses have, frankly, had a raw deal with spiralling energy costs.  Labour will freeze energy prices for twenty months to give time to address the fundamental problems in the energy sector, especially its uncompetiveness, and we will emerge with a fairer market.

Likewise, in the public house sector Labour has consistently campaigned alongside third sector organisations like CAMRA, Unions like the GMB and business representatives like the FSB and Forum of Private Business, to call for a fairer and more balanced relationship between “PubCos” – the large branded pub chains which own the vast majority of British boozers – and their licencees.

At the same time, we also want to reward companies and social enterprise that do the right thing.  For our example our “make work pay” contracts with business would allow those who pay the living wage to claim a one-year tax break in return.

And our job guarantee will offer support to employers who employ the long term employed.  Not ‘work for nothing’ schemes that deliver impoverished staff but a genuine programme that rebuilds the link between work and reward and recognises your role in helping people turn their lives around.

There is much evidence that employing staff who are turning up for work but returning home to poverty is bad for business and we are clear that we don’t see a future in the 21st Century for a low wage low skills Britain.

An independent study of those business which are already paying the London Living Wage found that:

  • 80% of these employers believe that the Living Wage had enhanced the quality of the work of their staff
  • Absenteeism had fallen by approximately 25% amongst these businesses
  • Two thirds of these employers reported a significant impact on recruitment and retention within their organisation.
  • 70% of employers felt that the Living Wage had increased consumer awareness of their organisation’s commitment to be an ethical employer.

This is all part of a general election offer which will remain resolutely pro-business whilst rewarding those who play by the rules and supporting firms to adopt high-value and high-productivity business models

  • Only Labour will cut business rates – Under David Cameron businesses have been hit by business rate rises of £1,500 on average and they are now facing a further hike of £400 in April 2014.  A Labour government would not bring forward the government’s planned 1% Corporation Tax cut for 80,000 large firms and use all of the money to cut the business rate bills of 1.5 million small firms.
  • Only Labour will freeze energy bills – Energy is one of the highest costs small businesses must pay.  Labour’s pledge to freeze energy prices until 2017 would save the average small business £1,800.
  • Only Labour will fix our broken banking system – Small businesses consistently rank limited access to finance as their biggest barrier to growth.  With 89% of all UK small businesses locked into the five big banks for banking facilities, all using the same lending criteria only radical reform will break this cycle.  Only Labour is committed to tackling this by creating a generation of new local business banks with a responsibility to boost lending in their area.

As I go around the country listening to business groups and developing entrepreneurs in every corner of the land, the message that comes back form you is ever clearer.

You know that markets are only free when they are fair, and everyone in them big and small plays by the same rules and has access to the same resources.

You know that an untapped entrepreneurial spirit burns inside in so many people across this great country – from the school kid who thinks maths isn’t for them but builds up a playground empire on the back of smart trading of football stickers, to the amateur baker who has always wondered if they really are as good as their family tells them, and if they really could run their bakery.

You know that a business only thrives when it is tune with its community as well as its shareholders.

So the forward offer from a future One Nation Labour government is forming:

  • Lower costs – a cut in business rates for 1.5 million small businesses and frozen energy prices saving each small business an average of £1,800 a year
  • Access to Finance – a commitment to create a generation of local banks in tune with the support businesses in their community need
  • A primary childcare guarantee – schools open from 8am to 6pm so every parent has the space they need to work or manage a new business
  • Business Support – a clear and well signposted point for businesses and entrepreneurs to access the help and advice they need
  • A focus on the skills your business needs at every stage of the educational system
  • Real incentives – for those who do the right things, such as taking on apprentices and paying the living wage

We are fighting to fulfil the promise of Britain, a promise you are already making a reality.  Thank you for all you do friends, and enjoy your week!

Posted in Blog, Featured, NewsComments Off on Toby Perkins’ speech to mark Entrepeneur’s Week

Toby Perkins is calling for a fairer deal for consumers on energy bills

Freeze that Bill!

A petition calling on the government to freeze energy prices received a warm reception in Chesterfield town centre. 400 people added their names to Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins’ petition, bringing the total number of signatories to over 4,000 in just three weeks.

Toby Perkins is calling for a fairer deal for consumers on energy bills

Toby Perkins is calling for a fairer deal for consumers on energy bills

With energy costs rising faster than wages, 3.5 million UK households are deemed to be living in fuel poverty according to figures from Action on Fuel Poverty. The government defines fuel poverty as spending more than 10% of income on energy bills, a label which applies to 5,473 properties or 13% of households in Chesterfield, according to the latest figures.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has committed a future Labour government to freezing the cost of energy bills until 2017, but Toby Perkins says David Cameron should take decisive action now. He said: “Hard-pressed people across Britain are struggling to meet the cost of their sky-rocketing energy bills as the ‘Big 6’ suppliers make astronomical profits. Gas supplier SSE, for example, made a group pre-tax profit of £336.4m in the six months to 30th September and has just announced a price hike of 8.2%, hitting consumers in the pocket.”

Mr Perkins added: “Our energy market is broken. Falls in wholesale fuel prices aren’t being passed on to consumers as the energy bosses rake in increasing profits. Send an email to or write to me at 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF to add your name to my petition.”

Posted in Featured, News, Press ReleaseComments Off on Freeze that Bill!

Toby Perkins wants to her people's views on GP services in Chesterfield

Town tells MP: ‘GP services need remedy’

Chesterfield patients are being urged to put GP services in the spotlight amid fears that access to doctors’ services is reaching crisis point in Chesterfield.

Toby Perkins wants to her people's views on GP services in Chesterfield

Toby Perkins wants to her people’s views on GP services in Chesterfield

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins found hundreds of people struggling to access GP services in Chesterfield and Staveley following his 8,500-response door-to-door survey undertaken over the summer. 

Commenting on his findings, Toby Perkins said: “I was alarmed to hear so many people tell me that they were unhappy with their GP provision – it came up on the doorstep more than any other local issue. Easy access to a doctor is vitally important, especially for the elderly and those with serious ongoing conditions.”

“Now I’m asking people across the constituency to contact me with their concerns or plaudits about local GP services, as we look to investigate the issue more widely. I will also be inviting GP practices to update us about steps they are taking to improve access. I have heard some shocking tales about the difficulty patients have had, both in terms of access and the service provided. I know many other people are very satisfied, so it is important that we investigate the nature of the problem, the specific areas that are poorly served and the actions that will be taken to put it right. Specific concerns have been raised about the provision at certain surgeries and I want to know how widespread those concerns are.”

37% of respondents told Toby that GP services are worse now than they were three years ago. Only a handful thought they had improved. Recurring concerns included lengthy waits for appointments, difficulties obtaining repeat prescriptions and problems contacting individual surgeries by telephone.

Launching his call for evidence Toby said:  “I’m already in discussions with Health Service managers about how things can, and must, improve. If you’ve got a specific issue or experience relating to this matter, please contact me so I can take your views and experience onboard.”


Toby can be contacted on, called on 386286 or written to at 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF.

Posted in Campaign, Featured, News, Press ReleaseComments Off on Town tells MP: ‘GP services need remedy’


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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