I have always loved living in Haringey – an area that has such an abundance of independent shops and small businesses. As the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, I am proud to represent such an entrepreneurial and vibrant area.
It’s the traders themselves and customers that make the high streets – but in these tough economic times, the Government should step in too, to help out small businesses and retailers.
So, I am very pleased that the Coalition Government has made significant changes, such as:
- Reducing the rates bill of small businesses, shops, and pubs by £1000 for the next two years.
- Continuing the doubled small business rates relief for another year.
- Introducing a reoccupation relief, which will halve rates for 18 months when a business takes over a long-term empty shop.
- Giving local authorities the power to provide additional rate relief for eligible businesses (but not pay day lenders, betting shops or pawnbrokers).
We are also encouraging innovation through the Future High Streets Forum, which will advise the Government on how to continue improving the high street environment.
It is so important that this help is provided – to encourage small businesses, to support retailers, and to keep our high streets diverse and vibrant.
Unfortunately, our local Labour-run Council don’t seem to share this sentiment – they have raised high street parking charges to £3 per hour. Traders say this is harming their businesses and forcing shoppers to go to superstores with cheap or free parking.
The Coalition Government has also launched a consultation about how to address this kind of unnecessary behaviour by local authorities. You can contribute here.
The economy is improving, and 600 new enterprises have opened in our area since 2011. The Lib Dems in Government will keep fighting to ensure that the UK is open for business, and that small businessmen and retailers see the benefits of the economic recovery.
The Big Lottery Fund has recently announced the launch of ‘Power to Change’. This is a community enterprise scheme, aimed at supporting local people to come together and improve their neighbourhoods.
From 2014, the £150 million fund will be invested in community enterprises to help them grow their membership and increase their range of activities. This fund is available to all community groups, from pop-up shops to local run sports teams, and is designed to make sure they have the funds to start up, and the support to thrive.
These enterprises will have a business plan, and must be inclusive of the whole community within a specified geographical area. Power to Change will offer them financial and administrative support, and will be accepting applications from January.
Haringey has always had a fantastic community spirit, and it is one of the many reasons I am proud to be the MP for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency. We have lots of volunteer-led organisations that give back to their local area, and I am sure that many of them could benefit from the new scheme.
Both existing and planned enterprises are eligible for help from the fund, and so if you think this could be of use to your organisation you can find out more at http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/powertochange.
Lynne Featherstone visited the Noel Park, Wood Green branch of Barclays Bank on Friday 11th May and heard from staff how they are supporting local businesses. She urged the bank to engage with the community to ensure that local people who want to set up a business have every chance to succeed.
Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, commented:
“It is encouraging to hear about businesses in Wood Green that are succeeding and growing despite the difficult economic climate. Banks need to give the right support to local businesses and that is why talking to them is so important. Cash flow is clearly a problem for many businesses and that is where high-street banks can make a real difference if they offer the right support.
“The coalition government has delivered lower taxes and less red tape. They will help get business moving again.
“Vince Cable’s government department also announced last week that the government-backed Angel Co-fund has made its first investment in new businesses. The £50million fund aims to support new small businesses in partnership with private investors.”
Rehanaz Noor, Barclays Bank manager of the Noel Park branch commented:
“Our commitment to the area is demonstrated by the fact that we have made a major investment in refurbishing the Noel Park branch. Our small business customers have remained resilient throughout the downturn with many adapting and diversifying to ensure they remain successful and most have survived and are starting to look at growth opportunities now. The start up market has been vibrant with many people taking the opportunity to start their own businesses using the skills they have.”