Families in Oldham East and Saddleworth are facing a cost of living crisis with prices rising faster than wages for 39 out of the last 40 months, more people than ever are working part-time because they can’t get enough hours to work full-time and energy bills having gone up by an average of £300 since David Cameron became Prime Minster.
Small independent businesses in Oldham and Saddleworth are also struggling. Local people keep them going because they know they form a vital part of our high street and our community. But small businesses are facing their own version of the cost of living crisis – a cost of doing business crisis.
Shops and small businesses across the country are due to see their business rates increase by an average of £430 from next April, at a total cost to businesses of £700 million. Small business owners face a stark choice: either pass these business rate increases on to their customers through higher prices – adding to the cost of living crisis for hard-working families – or face a further squeeze until they can no longer afford to stay in business.
Families and small businesses need help to see them through these tough times. That’s why a Labour Government would cut business rates for small and medium businesses in 2015 and freeze them in 2016. This move would mean an average saving of nearly £450 for 1.5 million business properties and would be paid for by not going ahead with the Tories’ plans for an additional Corporation Tax cut for just 80,000 large companies.
The living standards crisis is hitting businesses as well their customers. Many small businesses report that energy bills are the second biggest cost they face after rates and our pledge to freeze energy prices for 20 months until January 2017 will save small businesses an average of £1,800.
In addition, as I know only too well from my Be Fair – Pay on Time campaign over the last 2 ½ years, late payments, often from some of the largest companies, are also crippling small businesses’ cashflow and leading many to bankruptcy. The Government has thus far failed to get a grip on the late payments culture; issuing consultations and soundbites is not good enough for the thousands of businesses struggling to be paid promptly for their work and services.
Most of the jobs in the future will be created by a large number of small businesses which is why they need our support; so they can continue to create jobs and lead the economic recovery both in Oldham East and Saddleworth and across the country. Our plans will make a real difference for small firms, benefit ordinary consumers when they’re doing the weekly shop and also benefit our community through more local jobs.