The Number 1 issue raised with me by small businesses is the high level of business rates. So I asked both Conservative and Lib Dem government ministers about the issue in the House of Commons.
The problem for many small businesses is that rates are now nearly as high as the rents they pay, especially in our high streets.
Under this Government, 1.5million businesses have seen business rates rise by an average of £2,000.
The government is proposing to cut corporation tax. While the corporation tax cut would help larger companies, it wouldn’t help most smaller businesses at all, whereas a business rate cut would give immediate help to ordinary business owners.
That is why Labour is proposing to shelve the Government’s 1% corporation tax cut in 2015 and direct all that money towards reducing business rates. This plan has won support among organisations from the Federation of Small Businesses to the British Retail Consortium.
Many businesses are being crippled by business rates now and it is a great pity that we have a government that will not act on this vital issue.
Many small businesses and consumers rely on the local delivery offices in Formby, Maghull and Crosby to pick up parcels and important letters. Yet, there is nothing to prevent Royal Mail from selling off its local properties across the country and moving them to out-of-town locations that will be far more difficult to reach.
The fact that the local delivery offices are in prime town centre locations makes it more likely that the company will sell these off.
And now JP Morgan has confirmed that it advised the government that Royal Mail was worth twice as much as it was sold for. That of course has been confirmed by the share price which has nearly doubled since the company was sold.
The reality is that the government is refusing to guarantee that the universal delivery of letters will continue under the privatised company because it no longer controls what the Royal Mail does. Tax payers have been sold short with this sale both because the sale was undervalued and because the quality of service is likely to fall.
The big winners are the hedge funds who hoovered up many of the cut price shares and we all know that those same hedge funds are among the biggest funders of the Tory Party.
And now we are seeing plans from the post office to close or move local post offices like the one in Deyes Lane in Maghull, against the wishes of the people who use the post office.
The surprise is that is was a Lib Dem minister, Vince Cable who carried out the Royal Mail privatisation.
No one when they voted Lib Dem thought they were voting for them to sell off the Queen’s Head but then no one thought the Lib Dems would prop up a Tory government.