Archive | April, 2014

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Labour Councils – Backing Business

DSC_0051The next One Nation Labour government is determined to be the wind at the backs of Britain’s small businesses. But rather than dictating from Whitehall, we believe that this support must be built from the bottom up in Britain’s local high streets, business incubators and hubs.

This approach understands the key role that small businesses play in our economy and society. Small businesses account for nearly half of private sector turnover and crucially they also employ 13.8 million people. Thriving small businesses are key to earning our way out of the cost-of-living crisis by creating more secure jobs across the country.

Our approach also understands that when most small businesses first look for support it is not an MP or Minister they turn, but a local authority, business organisation or councillor.

These are the reasons I set up the Labour Councillors Business Network (LCBN), to bring together Labour councillors from across the country to share ideas, resources and best practice on small business support.

In early 2013 LCBN’s first report, ‘Labour Councils: Backing Business’ was published, showcasing how innovative Labour councils are supporting their local firms.

Earlier this month I was delighted to travel to Southampton to launch the second edition of our report.  The pamphlet features an article from Southampton describing how the new Labour administration has revitalised Southampton’s cultural quarter to house several new businesses.  It was great to witness this article brought to life beneath a skyline which has been christened “the crane capital” of the south coast.

DSC_0061Alongside this article are others from every other region of England, taking in ideas from large unitary authorities like York and small second tier authorities like Chesterfield. The schemes they highlight are as diverse as they are dynamic.

Business consistently ranks limited access to finance as the biggest barrier to growth. An article from Camden demonstrates how local authorities can play a role in the crowd funding market to help their local firms overcome this barrier.

Since the abolition of Business Link under the Tory-led government, entrepreneurs and start-ups have lacked a signposted place to find advice. In the report the Leader of Knowsley Council highlights his “Business Advocates” approach which better targets the Council’s support to local firms.

Businesses also point out the difficulties they face in recruiting young people with the right skills. The report showcases Waltham Forest’s innovative plan to address this by placing local employers with business experience on the board of every local school.  In addition to providing work ready young people for the local jobs market, this will normalise entrepreneurship, a key source of social mobility, as a career choice in schools.

Reports from Exeter and Dudley highlight how regeneration can boost a local economy and address issues of long term employment. Ideas from Ipswich demonstrate how innovative ideas in the area of transport can also transform the prospects of local small businesses.

DSC_0063These reports, along with many others, make tangible the positive results which flow when government, local or national, goes out to bat for its businesses.

Since I unveiled the first LCBN report in Nottingham a year ago I have visited every region of England to launch a regional network and seen these results first hand. As I travelled the country I was delighted but not surprised to meet so many Labour councillors with a passion for their local businesses and innovative ideas to help boost their economies. These ideas sit alongside our policies nationally to help small businesses grow and create more jobs, including regional banks so they can get the finance they need and making it easier for them to take on apprentices.

So if you’re interested in how Labour is supporting businesses in your area, even when we are out of government nationally, I encourage you to read this report as a living document then get in touch with the LCBN champion in your region to see for yourself the difference we are making.

Toby Perkins is MP for Chesterfield, Shadow Minister for Small Business and National Chair of the Labour Councillors Business Network 

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Second small business best practice report to be launched in Southampton tomorrow

Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Small Business Minister, will use a trip to Southampton tomorrow to launch the second annual report by the Labour Cllrs Business Network (LCBN).

The report showcases best practice in promoting jobs and small business growth from a trailblazing Labour Council in each region of England.  This follows Toby Perkins tour in 2013 to set up a LCBN network in region of England.

You can read the report here.

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The report from the South East was by Southampton Council’s Cllr Matt Tucker.  It included the new Labour administration leasing space, in parallel to a multi-million pound Arts Complex development, to Oxford Innovations for incubation space for new business start-ups and creative industries. Mr Perkins will be visiting Southampton’s emerging Cultural Quarter to see the development plans for himself.

Toby said:

“Although Labour are out of office nationally, there is still much we can do to support the small businesses who are the lifeblood of our economy.

This report, which features articles from all kinds of Councils, in every region of England, clearly demonstrates how the next One Nation Labour government will be champion for British business.  It shows how effective an active government working on the side of small businesses can be at promoting jobs and growth.

I’m delighted to visit Southampton to see some of this work first hand.”

Ideas

  • On skills, the pamphlet showcases the work of Waltham Forest Council in appointing business governors to the boards of local schools to ensure young people are work ready when they leave education.
  • On regeneration, the pamphlet highlights the success of Chesterfield Borough Council’s investment in redeveloping the town’s historic market hall which has produced new business opportunities and a boost to Council coffers.
  • On business support, Knowsley Council describe how their “Business Advocates” approach has targeted Council support to local firms.
  • On access to finance, Camden’s pioneering work with Funding Circle to promote local lending is featured as a special report.

There are further articles from right across the country.

Notes

  • The Labour Councillors Business Network (LCBN) was launched by Toby Perkins, Chuka Umunna and Hilary Benn in Camden in November 2012.  It allows Labour Councillors to share ideas, best practice and develop new thinking around business policy.
  • You can read more about it here and follow its work on twitter: @lcbn_uk
  • The first report was published in February 2013 and can be accessed here.
  • Since this time Toby Perkins has visited every region of England to set up a local business network and full details of this tour are featured in pages 14-15 of the new report.

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Toby Outside Big Ben

Cable faces demands to come clean on late payment policy after dramatic u-turn

Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Small Business Minister, has today written to the Business Secretary to demand that he explain the government’s latest u-turn on business policy1.

You can read the full letter here – Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP – April 2014

In 2012 a minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills wrote to FTSE 350 and warned them they would be named and shamed if they did not sign up to the “Prompt Payment Code”2.  This has not yet happened.

Toby Outside Big BenToby Perkins tabled a series of written parliamentary questions last week to find out if any companies were soon due to be named and shamed.

On the same day these were due to be answered, it was reported that BIS minister Matt Hancock had ruled out had “ruled out” the naming and shaming of companies not paying on time3.

Toby Perkins has therefore written to Vince Cable, the Business Secretary demanding that he make a statement and clear up the situation for small business.  He also asked Cable to make a statement in the House to clarify the situation for MPs.

Toby said:

“Small businesses are facing a cost-of-living crisis without enough money in their accounts to survive.  A quarter of company bankruptcies are estimated to be the result of late payments.

Instead of taking the side of small businesses and tackling this problem, Vince Cable’s Department is in disarray with Ministers completely contradicting each other.  Cable needs to get a grip on his department and clear up the situation once and for all.

Late payment is a clear example of “blue tape” where small businesses are held back by more established larger companies.  If this Tory-led government doesn’t take the action needed to stamp it out, small business can be assured that the next One Nation Labour government will.”

Notes

(1)  Copy of the letter is here – Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP – April 2014

(2)  http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/15801-business-minister-we-will-name-and-shame-late-payers

(3)  http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/banking/article4049413.ece

(4)  Shadow Secretary of State for BIS, Chuka Umunna, has threatened to expose companies that are persistently late paying their suppliers under new Labour plans to crack down on business “blue tape” – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/02/12/chuka-umunna-blue-tape_n_4774944.html

(5)  Under the next One Nation Labour Government, businesses would be forced to include information about payment records in their annual accounts under new reporting requirements and Labour is looking at naming and shaming the worst offenders.

(6)  For more information call Toby Perkins on 020 7219 2320

(7)  In March 2013 a list of FTSE 350 companies who had and had not signed up to the code appeared on the Prompt Payment Code website run by the Institute of Credit Management.  The government have done little to publicise this list, nor have they updated it in the year which has followed.

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RR Bedroom Tax

Labour pledges to scrap Bedroom Tax which hits over 1,000 people in Chesterfield

On the one year anniversary of the Bedroom Tax, Toby Perkins, Chesterfield’s MP, pledged a Labour government will scrap the Bedroom Tax which has hit 1060 people in our town.

Probation debateSince David Cameron’s government introduced the Bedroom Tax low-income households have been forced to find, on average an extra £720 a year. According to the National Housing Federation two thirds of households hit by the Bedroom Tax cannot find the money to pay their rents and one in seven are at risk of eviction.

Toby Perkins MP said, “Britain can’t afford another year of David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s Bedroom Tax. 1060 of people in Chesterfield have been hit by this cruel and costly tax on bedrooms. It’s time for the government to ditch the Bedroom Tax, If they don’t, then a Labour government will.”

RR Bedroom TaxRachel Reeves MP (left), Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State said, “Over the past year half a million people have been hit by the Bedroom Tax, forcing thousands into debt and thousands more to rely on food banks. It’s a cruel, unfair and costly tax which targets the vulnerable, with two thirds of those affected disabled. David Cameron promised the Bedroom Tax would save money, but figures in the Budget show the housing benefit bill is rising, not falling, with a huge £1billion increase over the next five years.”

Further notes

  • DWP figures on number of people hit by the Bedroom Tax:
North West

78,839

Scotland

71,683

London

52,200

Yorkshire and Humber

49,049

West Midlands

49,363

North East

37,547

South East

35,109

East Midlands

33,524

Wales

32,386

East of England

32,229

South West

26,261

TOTAL                                   

498,190

(Figures from November 2013)  

 

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Gloucester Factory

Gloucester’s small firms buoyed by visit from top Labour MP

Small businesses had a lot to shout about today when Labour’s shadow secretary for small business came to Gloucester.

Gloucester FactoryTraining up new skilled workers is a big must for Excel Precision Engineering, a highly specialised small business in Quedgeley, which prepares parts for the space, aviation, oil, gas and medical industries.

Toby Perkins MP, joined by Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Gloucester, Sophy Gardner, toured the business at the Olympus Business Park.

He met with Adam Masters, a 20-year-old trainee, who said: “I started here in January and I’m earning money whilst learning new skills on the job. It is really exciting to be a part of this industry.”

His boss Tony Sitek, manager director of the firm, said: “There are not enough skilled workers out there. They have got to have the basics in numbers and computer skills.

“We want to bring 14 and 15-year-olds into the workshop and show them that engineering is not like being down in the pit, it isn’t messy – it in fact holds great opportunities for them to work all over the world with hi-tech equipment.”

Other small businesses in the city met at City Works, in Alfred Street, to tell Mr Perkins over lunch what they need more help with.

John Down, a board member for Co-operative Futures, an organisation which supports community-led companies and co-operatives, said: “Businesses need to have someone who they can call on for support.

“You can have the best idea for a business but you need someone to challenge and encourage the thought process to make it a reality.”

Pottery class leader Patrick Esson, who runs classes to help vulnerable people, has lost some of his long-term clients because of cuts in social care funding at Gloucestershire County Council – but he still has high hopes of working with other small businesses to one day create a new gallery space in a warehouse, in which creative industries can show off the work they are doing.

Gloucester SophieMr Esson said: “I have been doing this for 20 years but the last three years have been difficult. I have lost some clients who have been coming to me for 10 or 15 years and that is hard because when people come here you really see them come out of their shell.

“We keep on pushing for our ambitions of opening a gallery one day. We are quite positive that the only way is up but it would be nice to see more support for this.”

Mr Perkins set out key policies which Labour would introduce to help small businesses. They include:

    • Linking up small businesses with resources available to them and supporting the creation of regional banks.
    • More consistent support for business start ups from area to area, with the creation of new bureaus in major cities and towns.
    • Clampdown on late payments by big business to small firms.
    • Further support for business rates to encourage occupation of empty units in city centres such as Gloucester.

This article was originally published in the Gloucester Citizen, read more here: http://www.gloucestercitizen.co.uk/Gloucester-s-small-firms-buoyed-visit-Labour-MP/story-20892881-detail/story.html#ixzz2xihMt2f4

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Welcome

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 in Chesterfield and Staveley 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.

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Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

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