Labour woos businesses as conference kicks off in Liverpool

Jonathan Reynolds MP

The opposition Labour Party has held its first Small Business Sunday at its annual conference in Liverpool – with a promise that the voice of small business will be “integral to a Labour government”.

Attended by the Federation of Small Businesses and British Chambers of Commerce, Labour’s conference has been dubbed “Davos on the Mersey” by the Financial Times, and has a long waiting list of business wishing to attend and meet the shadow front bench. 

The party claims small businesses will be at “the heart of the party’s mission for the UK to have the highest growth in the G7.”

Businesses attending the event heard pledges,, including: replacing business rates with a system for the 21st century; action to tackle the scourge of late payments; creating a level playing field for smaller firms to access public contracts.

Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Labour knows the value of small businesses, who are not just the lifeblood of our communities but essential to our economic success. Listening to the voice of small business is integral if the next Labour Government is to succeed. That is why Labour will ensure small business is represented on the Industrial Strategy council.  

“With Labour, small businesses will get the firm economic foundation they need to thrive, with action to tackle late payments, business rates reform and make it easier for small businesses to win public contracts.” 

Tina McKenzie, Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses said: “Labour is right to put small businesses at the heart of decision making – with small businesses and Government working hand in hand, we can ensure a prosperous future for the UK.

“Tackling late payment and business rates is exactly what small businesses are looking for – while opening up public procurement will see Government itself benefit from the talents of all those working in small businesses across the country.”  

Today at conference Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, is expected to commit to fiscal discipline, rather than make promises on spending, but will claim that a commitment to upgrade the energy grid will unlock private sector investment:

“Talk to any business and they will tell you that the queue for grid connections is growing out of control, with more than £200bn worth of privately-funded projects now stuck.

“Labour will turbocharge our growth, get Britain building and unlock private sector investment by speeding up the grid. 

“This will help cut family energy bills, allow businesses to invest and strengthen our energy security from foreign dictators.”