Small businesses are the backbone of our economy: we know when small business is supported, the economy will prosper. That’s where the Labour Party is a key force in supporting the industry – it recognises small business is vital in creating jobs, driving innovation, and building communities.
For instance, business rates are crushing many SMEs, and recent reforms have resulted in the average small business facing rising business rates, while larger chains see reductions in their rateable value. As we look to rebuild our economy in the midst of an energy crisis, still feeling the ripple effects of the pandemic, we must look to Labour and its policies aimed at supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, for instance, the reform of the business rates system.
An organisation that has been at the forefront of advocating for small businesses within the Labour Party is SME4Labour, which I co-founded with Baron Sonny Leong just over five years ago.
SME4Labour works to promote policies that put small businesses at the heart of Labour’s economic plan: encouraging focus on policies reflective of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Under the leadership of Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves and Jonathan Reynolds, Labour is developing a comprehensive, sustainable, and innovative plan to support small businesses – putting SMEs at the heart of their vision for Britain’s economy.
These plans include reforming business rates to make them fairer and more transparent, reforming the apprenticeship levy, and providing access to affordable finance and credit, and investing in skills and training to help small businesses thrive in a changing economy.
In his speech at the 5th SME4Labour gala dinner in October 2022, Starmer championed small businesses, proclaiming that they were the ‘lifeblood of our communities’. Championing the work SME4Labour does, Starmer continued, expressing his pride in standing with the organisation and recognising our ‘tireless efforts to support and promote small businesses across the country’.
Labour’s commitment to fair and sustainable economic policies prioritising the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs has been a key driver in securing support within the industry.
Here at SME4Labour, we have actively engaged the party to take this approach, advocating for small businesses at events across the country, including at Labour’s Annual Conference.
Hosting a range of events at Labour’s 2022 annual conference, we engaged, facilitated, and promoted discussion that focused on what Labour’s approach to policy should be. Providing a platform to small businesses and figures from across the industry, we worked to hold engaging and insightful panel discussions, focusing on what Labour can do to unlock the potential of small businesses. Hosting workshops on digital skills and entrepreneurship, we worked with party members and business leaders alike to come together and share their ideas, collaborate, and connect.
Readying ourselves for another busy conference, where we will continue our endeavours of promoting and championing small business, we’re planning a wide range of fringes, private round tables, and receptions.
With planning underway, we will hold workshops and discussions on helping SMEs get access to funding, championing a fair taxation system, and how Labour can drive innovation and entrepreneurship.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and with Labour’s continued commitment to the continued prosperity of SMEs, they will thrive in ways not seen before.
With the input and advocacy of organisations like ours, Labour is committed to developing policies that prioritise the needs of small businesses and reflect their importance in our economy. As we move forward, Labour will continue to work towards building a fairer and more sustainable economy that supports the growth and success of small businesses across the UK.
If you’re interested in supporting our work, please join SME4Labour, and together, we can build an economy centred on growth and prosperity where SMEs are elevated in our society. You can easily do it through our website, https://SME4Labour.org/become-a-member/.
Cllr Ibrahim Dogus, Chair of SME4Labour