SMALL Business Saturday at the start of December each year is an incredibly important occasion for so many people in my constituency and across the country.
It is a time when we set out to recognise formally all the efforts made by thousands of people who dedicate their working lives to running hopefully successful small business firms. Because it is the ingenuity, grit and determination of founders and small business leaders that drives success.
In an attempt to highlight the importance of small businesses in our area I took time to visit two differing concerns – one with a proven track record of success and another just setting out for the first time.
It was a pleasure to meet all those involved at ePay Merchant Services Ltd, based at The Technology Centre on Inward Way, Ellesmere Port. The company was incorporated in November 2018 but already it has been named by the Small Business Saturday campaign as one of the 100 most impressive small firms in 2023. Delivering massive savings to other businesses on electronic financial transactions I believe they will go from strength to strength.
Then I took time to meet the family whose Asian food stall Kerala Delight opens in Ellesmere Port Market this weekend, hopefully complementing all the other traders in that long-established retail venue.
Small business is the beating heart of our economy. The vast majority of businesses in this country are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), employing 16.7 million people and boosting our UK economy by £2.4 trillion, breathing life into our high streets, delivering services that make our lives easier and providing the goods we need to thrive.
It is no exaggeration to say that without a diverse and thriving eco-system of small businesses, communities in our country would be so much poorer.
Often small businesses feel neglected by government. They believe they are not given the respect their sheer economic weight deserves.
It will be a priority for a future Labour government to hardwire the voice of small business into everything we do, making sure we have the policy framework needed to allow our small businesses to prosper and grow.
Sadly not all small businesses that are set up will prosper but what government can, and must provide, is the total business environment that offers a firm foundation for success. My ask of small business leaders across the UK is to work with us as we try to build that firm foundation.
We have already outlined some of our plans to create the environment that you need to thrive: a strong economy, policy certainty, investment in people and places, as well as action on the things holding firms back.
Under Labour, small business will get the respect it deserves, with a priority of action on late payments to make sure they get paid on time, as well as a reform of business rates to make an antiquated system more responsive to needs.
Many small retail businesses depend hugely on sales success in the run-up to Christmas, so please do your best to help small traders to continue to make our economy richer. I am certain that if Ellesmere Port town centre is to thrive again it will be because small businesses have decided to set up shop there.