July 22, 2014


According to the government, the economy is recovering. More people are in work and unemployment is down.

Yet most people are not experiencing the benefits of recovery at all as wages are still rising more slowly than prices and people see their living standards continue to fall. 

We have more than 15,000 people in work in Formby, Crosby, Aintree and Maghull alone who earn less than a living wage. 

Many people in work are using food banks and many others rely on extortionate payday loans just to survive and get through the month. 

Parliament is considering measures to help those on low pay including those trapped by zero-hours contracts and earning less than the minimum wage due to loopholes in the law or through lack of enforcement. 

Many people in part time, low paid jobs want more hours and they certainly want better pay. 

So the government needs to find ways to help the many people who are really, really struggling to make ends meet. 

The trouble is at present is that only a few are really benefiting while for years the majority on low and middle incomes have seen their pay fall both in the public and private sectors.

We have nearly 5million businesses in this country and 4.7million of them employ fewer than 10 people. Yet those businesses, are often finding it very hard to survive in much the same way that many people on low pay are finding it hard to pay their bills. 

So one place where the government can take action to support the many not just the wealthy few is in the small business sector.

Late payment is the number one issue cited by the Federation of Small Businesses from a survey of its members. 

The unequal relationship between large and small business needs attention as and is something I have raised with government minister. Small businesses should not be afraid to take on their large business partners for fear of loss of future business, but that situation is all too common at present.

Lending to our smallest businesses continues to fall and the government’s schemes simply are not working. 

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and when they grow, they can create jobs, which are much needed. 

We need better signposting so that small businesses know where to go if the banks will not lend. 

On Merseyside we have the Merseyside Special Investment Fund and in the North West we have the Cumberland building society, which offers a full range of banking services.

Those are two examples that I have come across which show that there are a few good lenders who show what is possible. 

We can learn a lot from them, which is why I hope Labour’s proposals for a proper system of regional banks will come to fruition when we get into government next year. 

We will then be in a position to support small businesses and make sure that they can borrow the money they need to develop their business, ensure growth and create some of the well paid jobs that so many people are crying out for.

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