December 8, 2010


Before I became an MP, I ran a small business and like many people here in Sefton, found things very tough through the global economic crisis.

I was therefore pleased when Lord Young was appointed as the small business tsar by David Cameron. The reason I was pleased was that it showed that the government was serious about helping small business through the tough times and that the government wasn’t just interested in big business, a charge often levied at the Conservative Party, if not the Liberal Democrats.

Lord Young called on the government and local councils to carry on paying small businesses in five days, a policy brought in by the Labour government and one which is very helpful to small business especially as it helps with cash flow. It was interesting that Lord Young was at odds with Sir Philip Green, the billionaire head of Top Shop and the government’s efficiency adviser. 

Sir Philip called for government to abandon the practice of paying small suppliers quickly as part of improving the efficiency of government – an interesting contradiction between two government advisers.

In politics things move on quickly and Lord Young had to resign from the government because of his comments that most people had never had it so good when most people of course are facing a pretty grim time due to the cuts. 

And then Sir Philip Green was soon in trouble for avoiding tax on the £1.2billion he earned from dividends paid by the Top Shop parent company, Arcadia. The dividends were paid to his wife who is registered for tax in Monaco, which meant that tax was not due to be paid in this country.

I don’t know what small business owners in Sefton make of the activities of either Lord Young or Sir Philip Green but I do know that they need all the help they can get from the government when many of their customers who work in the public sector will lose their jobs and stop spending money with Sefton small businesses.

It was great to see so many people in Formby on Saturday afternoon at the Dickensian Day. Even the rain did not deter people from attending and the organisers did a splendid job. 

Well done to everyone who was involved and thank you to all the stall holders for your hard work. While the rain may have had its effect, it did not dampen spirits.

My daughter certainly enjoyed herself not least her visit to see Santa. He was very busy over the weekend and she saw him again in the afternoon at the Mencap Christmas party in Crosby and again when she and her brother switched on the Christmas lights in Ince Blundell on Sunday evening.

It was great to see the delight on the faces at the Mencap party and this is a good opportunity to praise the hard work that goes on week in week out by all the volunteers and carers at Mencap and at other voluntary organisations in Sefton. Thank you to everyone at Mencap who organised the party and it was an honour to be invited to the party and to be the honorary president, although there was no doubt that Santa was the star of the show as ever.

Thank you also to Ince Blundell Parish Council for inviting me to turn on the Christmas lights. Ince Blundell like the other parish councils in Sefton do a great job in supporting their local community and they are all volunteers.

Money is going to be tight for parish councils and other voluntary groups in Sefton. 

When the cuts start to bite, I hope that there will still be support for Mencap, for the parishes and for many other groups. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for these groups to continue their work.

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