Whilst Labour and the Conservatives are busy ‘hobnobbing’ with the CEOs of FTSE top 20 companies, UKIP believe that although large corporations have a part to play, it’s small and medium sized companies which are the key to our future prosperity as a nation, particularly in the West Midlands.
SMEs (Small and Medium sized Employers) employ almost 60% of people in the private sector in the UK, yet they often receive very little recognition, in fact the Coalition has been withdrawing support schemes, causing many to ‘go to the wall’
Bearing this in mind, we have been spending time visiting not just the local organisations who represent these businesses, but also charitable and volunteer bodies.
Visits included :
The Black Country Chamber of Commerce
SCVO (Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations)
The Albion Foundation
Sandwell Police (Chief Superintendent Mark Robinson)
Black Country Consortium
I would like to take this opportunity to offer our sincere thanks to the representatives of all the above who were kind enough to give their time to speak to us and explain exactly what they do, how they do it, what their main issues are, and how we might be able to assist them in the future.
As a result of the above visits, on-going conversations and investigations, we identified and prioritised the following areas of concern :
i) Educational reform must equip young people with skills for the workplace
Around five in 10 members of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) believe that young people lack a good attitude to work as well as other skills such as problem solving. The FSB has said that reform of the GCSE system must give young people access to these skills to make them ready for the workplace
Local businesses prefer to employ local people wherever possible. The business and education communities in Sandwell need to work as closely together as they can to ensure that young people are ‘work ready’, and that they understand the demands of the world of work,
– UKIP will bring together the local education and business communities, help to develop mutual understanding, and ensure that ’employability skills’ are embedded in young people from an early age
– UKIP will introduce an option for students to take an Apprenticeship Qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs which can be continued at A-Level. Students can take up apprenticeships in jobs with certified professionals qualified to grade the progress of the student
– Subject to academic performance UKIP will remove tuition fees for students taking approved degrees in science, medicine, technology, engineering, maths on the condition that they live, work and pay tax in the UK for five years after the completion of their degrees
– UKIP will scrap the target of 50% of school leavers going to university
ii) Banks need to do more to win small business confidence
Small businesses do not feel their bank cares about them or their business despite rating the products on offer highly and small firms do not consider switching banks
– UKIP will give the recognition to small and medium sized businesses that they deserve and will work with banks to ensure they are treated fairly
iii) New EU data protection proposals could cost UK small businesses thousands
One in five small firms find data protection to be a burdensome regulation to comply with, and new proposals from the European Parliament for firms which hold data of more than 5,000 customers to employ a Data Protection Officer will make this more burdensome
– UKIP will repeal unnecessary legislation which unfairly penalises small and medium sized businesses
iv) New research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) shows the UK’s small business owners are losing around 12 days a year keeping on top of their tax administration costing them half a billion pounds per year. Rather than the EU and the UK government producing additional regulations, small business badly need the existing ones reducing and simplifying
– UKIP will repeal a huge amount of unnecessary EU-generated legislation and reduce the huge burden of ‘red tape’ on UK businesses
v) Recent floods cost small businesses £831 million
As businesses continue to recover from the recent floods, new data released by the Federation of Small Businesses reveals small firms in affected areas lost more than three quarters of a billion pounds
– UKIP is committed to increasing investment in existing flood and coastal defences, and the introduction of additional ones
vi) Improvements to the local road network are a major priority for Sandwell businesses.
The vast majority of goods are transported by road not rail, the ‘car park’ which is the M6 around Birmingham is a major issue and unquestionably costs local businesses an enormous amount in lost time and money
The transport authority Centro recently estimated that nine out of 10 trucks are continuing to use the original M6, with resultant congestion costing the West Midlands economy approximately £2 billion pounds annually.
Allowing free access to the M6 Toll (Birmingham North Relief Road) would provide a massive benefit to both business users and ‘the ordinary motorist’
– UKIP would scrap HS2 and use the money saved to help build new bypasses, widen existing roads and enhance the road network nationally
– UKIP is opposed to the ‘highway robbery’ of toll roads such as the Dartford Crossing which was paid for more than ten years ago. UKIP will block the introduction of any new toll roads, and work towards removing existing tolls from publicly owned roads
– Sandwell UKIP MPs would make the case and fight for the M6 Toll to be made available to all, either at a much reduced charge, or free
(the M40 is a toll road, a similar arrangement for the government to either part pay or pay in full the cost of M6 tolls could be put in to place)