Lisa Nandy MP: Supporting our local businesses
Last weekend saw shops and businesses in Wigan and across the countr celebrating Small Business Saturday, an annual event which highlights the vitally important role that small businesses play in our communities and the value of shopping locally.
Across the UK, small and medium size businesses account for 99.9% of the business population (5.6 million businesses), three fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector.
Total employment in these businesses in 2020 was 16.3 million (61% of the total), whilst turnove was estimated at £2.3 trillion (52%).
They are at the very heart of our economy and of our communities.
Covid-19 highlighted the importance of local high streets and supporting our local businesses. Too many of our local small businesses in Wigan are in a precarious position because of financial strains and the continuing impact of lockdown.
Across the country almost 50 shops a day disappeared from our high streets in the first six months of this year.
This year’s Small Business Saturday looked in particular to recognise the support that small businesses now need to recover and thrive and to say a big thank you for their vital work during the pandemic.
Small British businesses have played a massive role in the national effort to defeat coronavirus; from local cafes and restaurants in Wigan rising to the challenge of providing free school meals during the holidays when the Government failed to feed hungry children to adapting their operations to produce hand sanitiser and PPE.
Local business stepped up and we must now stand by them and ensure they are able to get back on their feet.
The Conservative government have overseen a lost decade of high taxes and low growth.
Proposals such as the planned 1.25% hike in National Insurance contributions are also set to hit local business just as they are trying to get back on track after nearly two years of disruption.
It could mean either an attempted squeeze on wages and conditions, higher prices for customers or the scaling back of recruitment and growth plans in local businesses.
With a cliff-edge in business rates relief coming up in March when the Government’s temporary support ends, and shortages and supply chain issues increasing pressure and costs many small businesses are in real danger of going to the wall.
Analysis of statistics produced by the Office of National Statistics reveals that 332,000 business are at-risk of closure in the next three months, accounting for a loss of up to 828,000 jobs.
In Wigan alone it i predicted that over 180 local businesses are at risk of closing in the next few months. Something needs to change.
To help support our local businesses the Labour Party is calling for business rates to be to cut and eventually entirely scrapped.
We would replace them with a new form of business taxation fit for the 21st Century.
This would support small businesses in rebuilding after the pandemic and would level the playing field between online giants and local bricks and mortar businesses.
With Christmas fast approaching it is also more important than ever that we all support our local businesses by shopping locally in the coming weeks.
Over 60% of retailers’ sales are made during the Christmas season and if we don’t use our local shops during this period we could be in danger of losing them forever.
Small businesses do so much to enrich our lives and our community in Wigan, providing jobs, training and supporting economic growth.
Let’s get out there and show them the support they so vitally deserve and urgently need.
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