Mike O’Brien has called on the Labour Party to “bang the drum for small businesses” after Small Business Saturday last weekendand he has set out Labour’s plans to help local small businesses. As a self employed lawyer, who used to help run a law firm, he knows the importance of selling services and bring in an income.
“Small firms offer consumers more choice, new products and personal service. They often take on big players like the supermarkets and force them to change. They are often at the cutting edge of innovation.
“Small firms have been given a rough time recently. They have seen their Business rates rocket; gas and electricity bills have soared and the banks have often denied small businesses access to the finance they need. There has been a lot of warm words from this government about intervening to help, but it has never led to any thing practical.
“By contrast, small businesses are part of Labour’s DNA. Thousands of small businesses recognise that Labour was the party that first set about tackling late payment of their invoices by the public sector and also recognised the need to reduce bureaucracy.
“Labour has promised practical help in the future. We will first cut, then freeze business rates for small business premises. We will introduce an energy price freeze which will save the average small business £5000 a year. We will clamp down on late payment of small firms by their large customers. We also plan a major reform our banking system to enable small businesses to get a much better deal.
“After four years of stagnation, small businesses deserve better. They need national policies that recognise their strategic importance to the economy.”
As the Minister for Trade from 2003 to 2004, Mike O’Brien was responsible for redirecting government export support away from big businesses, toward small businesses. The ‘UK Trade and Investment’ agency was told to make helping small business its top priority. This major reform happened because Mike says that he saw the expansion of the Internet giving small businesses the chance to trade globally. Today, many small businesses are selling things internationally for the first time, using the Internet, Facebook and social media. They are creating new jobs and are at the cutting edge of innovation.
But Mike says “We need to expand the number of small businesses who know how to take advantage of those opportunities. That’s why is Trade Minister - and later as Energy Minister - I focused on giving practical support to the innovative and entrepreneurial side of small businesses.
“Today’s successful small business will often be the larger business of the future. That’s why I think we need to celebrate the little guy and give people in small businesses the help to succeed.
“We need to bang the drum for our small firms and thank the people who run them. I want to demonstrate that One Nation Labour is the party that will help our businesses to get on – they after all are the ones who create the good, decent jobs we want to see.”