My Views

Decamber 3rd, 2022
Written by John Grogan

On Small Business Saturday (December 3rd) we celebrate the enterprises which are the backbone of our local economy.

It is a tough time for many such businesses faced with rising energy costs and falling demand. Government needs to give more help to  the 340 small businesses in the constituency (with between 10-49 employees ) and 3225 micro businesses (with between 1-9 employees). Labour are proposing three measures that would not cost the taxpayer any money but would make a big difference to the bottom line of our local entrepreneurs.
1) Reform of business rates 
Labour is now committed to a major reform of business rates so that much more of the local tax burden would be transferred from the high street to the online giant companies.

The system that we replace it with will incentivise investment, feature more frequent revaluations and instant reductions in bills where property values fall, reward businesses that move into empty premises, encourage, not penalise, green improvements to businesses, and no public services or local authorities will lose out from these changes.
2) Tough action on late payments 

Labour plans to help small businesses get their unpaid invoices paid on time by larger companies and the public sector. More than £20 billion in unpaid invoices are outstanding at any one time. Anybody who, like me, has run a small business knows that cash flow is all important particularly in the early years. Under Labour’s proposals, big businesses would be required to provide details on their company’s payment practices in their annual report. 

This would require audit committees to issue a report on late payments. Every big UK corporation should have a non-executive director on its board with direct responsibility for payment culture.

Research indicates that the culture of delayed payments is a bigger problem for British businesses than their European equivalents with a third of  business owners reporting sleepless nights as a result.
In 2020 the Government undertook a consultation about giving the Small Business Commissioner increased powers to sanction big businesses who consistently pay late . Nothing much has been done since.
3) Give small businesses a shot at public contracts
Recent research by the Spend Network shows only 10% of public contracts are earmarked for small businesses. Earlier this year, the British Chamber of Commerce found that small businesses are now receiving a relatively smaller amount of direct government procurement spending than they were five years ago in 2016. The Government talks the talk on small businesses but continues to fail to deliver. 

By cutting red tape and streamlining the bidding process, Labour will ensure small businesses have a genuine shot to win public contracts.