MUCH HAS been made about the role of businesses in the economic recovery during party conference season.
At a time when the public sector is being hit by huge cuts, the role of the private sector could not be more important.
But in a town like Wigan, businesses that rely on public sector contracts are being hit by cuts to public services, and rising unemployment means less trade for them.
So while it is right that businesses should do their bit to create jobs and take on apprentices, as Ed Miliband suggested, it is vital that the Government also does its bit to support them.
In Wigan apprenticeships are badly needed. I have seen for myself some excellent apprenticeship schemes in the Borough, such as those under the Future Jobs Fund which was sadly abolished last year.
Meanwhile many of the apprenticeships in the construction industry have disappeared as work has dried up.
The Government should be urgently reinstating schemes like the Future Jobs Fund which enabled small businesses to take apprentices, and bring back schemes like Building Schools for the Future which provided a boost to the construction sector.
They urgently need to step in to help small businesses. In Wigan where nearly 2/3 of people are employed in small and medium businesses this isn’t just an issue that affects the people who own and run businesses; it affects us all.
Over the last year the Wigan Evening Post has reported a dramatic rise in the number of firms in Wigan that have gone bust.
There are always a range of reasons why this happens, but many of the firms that have come to me for help tell me they are having difficulty getting the banks to lend to them. After taxpayers in Wigan and across the country stepped in to bail out the banks, it is simply wrong that Government won’t force the banks to lend.
Many of the businesses I work with tell me that they have been viable for many years, but urgently need short term help to survive the financial crisis.
The Prime Minister David Cameron told his party conference last week that people across Britain should pay off their debts.
After we bailed out the financial sector, it seems to me that it isn’t the British public he should be targeting but the banks who still owe taxpayers an astonishing debt.
If they were to start by supporting the many excellent small businesses across Wigan it would be a much needed boost to the economy, and of great help to us all.