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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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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 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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Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

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