How Labour will support small businesses

Labour parliamentary candidate, Andy Newman, and Euro candidate Clare Moody, campaigning in Bradford on Avon, Chippenham constituency - copyright Steve Reckless

Labour understands the need for a prosperous economy, and the need to put in place measures to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), which currently provide 60% of the UK’s private sector jobs.

We have listened to small businesses, and a Labour government will introduce a number of measures to support them:

Labour understand the need for investment, and the challenges of SMEs in gaining finance. We will create a new National Investment Bank, and regional development banks in every region, to identify where other lenders fail to meet the needs of SMEs and       prioritise lending to improve the funding gap.

We will reinstate the lower small-business corporation tax rate.

We will review the Tory reforms to business rates, recognising the fact that high street retail businesses are competing with on-line businesses with lower costs. Will also take immediate action on business rates, to lower the burden on businesses, including switching from RPI to CPI indexation, exempting new investment in plant and machinery from valuations, and ensuring that businesses have access to a proper appeals process

We will scrap quarterly  reporting for businesses with a turnover of under £85,000.

Labour understands that late payment can push businesses into real difficulty. We will declare war on late payments by using government procurement to ensure that anyone bidding for a government contract pays its own suppliers within 3 days; and by developing a version of the Australian system of binding arbitration and fines for persistent late-payers for the private and public sectors.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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Government action is needed to tackle homelessness


Today I visited Unity House Hostel, which is run by a homelessness charity in Chippenham. Obviously as a charity they are non political, and had given all the candidates an opportunity to visit, but I was the only one who replied. I had a very interesting hour talking to staff and clients.

A helping hand to those who are going through a chaotic period of their life is vital to get them back on track, and I was really pleased to talk to residents at the hostel, and we covered all sorts of issues, from homelessness, prevention of terrorism, the British constitution, education policy and even whether banning cannabis is effective.
The excellent work that the charity does is vital to support those currently in need, but charities cannot resolves the root causes of homelessness. Government action is required to tackle homelessness is a growing crisis in the UK. Rough sleeping has doubled since 2010, from 1768 in 2010 to 4134 in 2016.

Almost 60000 households were accepted as homeless in “priority need” in 2016, which is an increase of nearly half since the last Labour government.

There are now over 100000 homeless children in temporary accommodation. Locally in Wiltshire shortages of social housing can create real problems for families who lose their homes, as for example, women from children who lose their house – often for reasons that they could not have prevented – may be found a place in a hostel in a different town from where they have networks of family and friends to support them, which can mean they also lose their jobs. The cruel regime of benefit sanctions introduced by the Lib Dem / Conservative coalition and continued by this Conservative government can also lead to people becoming homeless, people can be sanctioned for example just because their bus makes them late for an appointment.

Labour intend, if elected, to develop a new national strategy to tackle rough sleeping as a question of urgency, including 4000 extra homes which are ring fenced for people who have been sleeping rough. Personally, I have acquaintance with the issues through the Threshold charity in Swindon, and if elected I will make a personal commitment to urgently work with the local voluntary sector, and Wiltshire CC, to prioritise local provision.

Labour is committed to building 200000 new homes per year during the next parliament, half of them affordable to rent or buy, and improved tenants rights. These measures will start to reverse the trend.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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Labour’s commitment to a Brexit that works for the British People

Britain will leave the EU under a Labour government. We respect the decision of the British people who voted to Leave in the referendum. Out means out and leave means leave.

However, it is vital that we get the best possible deal from the EU, to ensure future prosperity for our nation, and for future generations. Labour has the best chance of getting a good deal as we have a highly professional approach to negotiations, which will be led by Sir Keir Starmer QC MP, who is a highly talented barrister. Labour also has the advantage of excellent behind the scenes contacts with other European political parties, trade unions and governments, many of whom quietly share the frustrations of the British people with the unaccountable EU institutions.

The UK will leave the EU in March 2019. Given that 44% of Britain’s exports are with the EU, we simply cannot allow the economy to fall off a cliff, which is what the “no deal” scenario touted by the Tories would represent. If we took that approach, multi-national companies and even British companies would withdraw investment and jobs from Britain.

The top priority in negotiations must be that we keep a tariff free export arrangement with the EU. There are several ways this could be achieved, and it is not possible to have proper diplomacy and negotiations by issuing public threats and insults, as Theresa May has done. Labour does not believe in staying in the European Economic Area (EEA = single market), unless it is reformed, but we believe that whatever the opening public stance taken by the EU, there are opportunities for reform and many other EU countries would like to see those reforms as well. If the EEA cannot be reformed than the UK will need to have a new, bespoke agreement with the EU. This is achievable. It cannot be achieved by fantasising about hypothetical future trade deals with India, for example, it can only be achieved by working to sustain a good working and trade relationship with the countries of the EU, Labour is confident we can deliver this.

What Labour doesn’t accept, and does not believe the British people will accept, is the Tory vision of the UK as a Poundland economy: attracting businesses here only by lower levels of corporation tax, less health and safety, less environmental regulation, lower wages and worse employment rights. We have six tests to judge whether we will support any deal, and these boil down to a commitment that the British People will not be worse off.

Once Britain leaves the EU, the UK’s commitment to the free movement of labour ends. Labour is determined to deliver an immigration policy that the British people agree with, and this means that the policy has to work in the interests both of the British economy and of communities. We cannot cut our nose off to spite our face, so immigration will be needed to address key skill shortages. But under Labour we are determined that we will train the workforce so that we have fewer skills shortages in the future. The Conservative approach of stopping bursaries for student nurses so young people here cannot afford to train to be nurses while the NHS then has to go to the Philippines and India to recruit nurses makes no sense.

The Conservative’s idea of leaving with no deal also jeopardises the sovereignty of Gibralter and peace and stability of Northern Ireland. This is not in our national interest, and the Conservatives are being reckless.

We are leaving the EU, that is certain. But how we leave the EU will shape our nations for a generation or more. Labour is determined to deliver a Brexit that works for the British people, for our economy, and ensures that we are no less prosperous, and that we suffer no reduction in rights and liberties.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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Labour’s commitment to the NHS

I have recently signed the pledge from the Royal College of Nursing to champion the interests of nurses locally. I was very pleased to do so.

Outside of politics, I am the branch secretary with GMB trade union for Wiltshire, with a number of members in the NHS who I support, especially at the GWH in Swindon. I have first hand experience of how the NHS is suffering financially at the moment, and the recent decision of the Conservatives to abolish the bursary for student nurses shows just how out of touch they are with the realities facing the profession.

The government is not meeting its recruitment and retention targets for nurses or doctors and the 1% pay cap is severely hampering the profession. Labour will ensure that NHS staff are properly rewarded.

To touch on my own personal experience, my son was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of leukaemia in 2015. Fortunately through the fantastic treatment he had at the Bristol Childrens hospital he has pulled through, and I was completely overwhelmed by the professionalism and levels of care and kindness by all the medical staff, and particularly impressed by the gentle toughness of the nurses who encouraged him back into eating after his bone marrow transplant. The nursing care was just as important as the expertise of the doctors of getting him on the path to recovery.

This experience makes me even more acutely concerned that over 24000 patients are now waiting longer than 2 months to start urgent cancer treatment, and the two month cancer target has not been met since December 2015. We are not meeting that 2 month target in Wiltshire.

Not only under the Conservatives but also when the Lib Dems were in government between 2010 and 2015 waiting lists soared; with over a million more people waiting for treatment than when Labour was in power. In both North Bristol NHS trust and GWH NHS Foundation Trust, based on the latest available data, the target has been missed to see 92% of patients within 18 weeks for their operation. Since 2009/2010 the number of people waiting longer than 4 hours in hospital A&E departments has quadrupled, and in the year 2015/2016 more than 1.8 million people had to wait longer than 4 hours.

Older and vulnerable people have also been hit by £4.6 billion cut from social care budgets, both under the Conservatives and when the Lib Dems were in government.

In contrast, I am very proud of what was achieved by the Labour government between 1997 and 2010. By 2010, there were 80000 more nurses and 44000 more doctors.

Labour is pledged to fully fund the NHS, and in particular to ensure that performance targets are met. We will introduce legislation so that the NHS has a statutory duty to have safe staffing levels, we will lift the 1% pay cap, and restore NHS bursaries. We will also introduce a plan to alleviate immediate pressures on social care, and ensure long term sustainable funding.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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Labour’s commitment to human rights

I am very concerned about the lowered commitment from the current government, and the Lib Dem / Conservative government before it, to downgrade Britain’s work for human rights internationally. Indeed in 2015, the permanent secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said that under the Conservatives “human rights are now seen less of a priority than the so-called ‘prosperity agenda’ ”

The Lib Dem / Conservative coalition between 2010 and 2015 cut the FCO budget by 16%, meaning that the UK now spends less per head on international diplomacy, per head, than Germany, France, Australia or Canada. This means that we have been absent from having any voice in major international crises, where human rights abuses are occurring. We have been absent from having any input into some of the most pressing human rights crises, such as the Ukraine, Afghanistan or the Middle East peace processes.

Indeed, the Conservatives have broken the UK’s obligations under the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty by continuing to grant arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite the atrocities that Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen. This severely weakens the UK’s moral authority internationally.

Labour will seek to restore progressive values into foreign policy, placing greater emphasis on working multi-laterally with allies and friends, based on shared values. We will drive forward a renewed diplomatic effort to find peaceful resolutions for the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and we will work closely with the International Criminal Court to ensure that perpetrators of war crimes are held to account, and this will include investigating, and where appropriate prosecuting, British citizens who have travelled to Syria to support the so-called Islamic State terrorist group.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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Labour’s brilliant manifesto

Labour-Manifesto-640x355cLabour have published a brilliant manifesto, with policies that are fully costed and funded, which proposes a better, fairer more prosperous Britain. Read it for yourself:

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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Only Labour will defend Pensioners.

Only a Labour government will protect the financial security of pensioners. 20850 pensioners will benefit from Labour’s plan to keep the “Triple Lock”, under threat from the Conservatives.

The Labour Party has committed to defend the “Triple Lock”, by which state pensions are increased each year by either inflation (Consumer Price Index), average earnings, or 2.5%; whichever is greater. The Triple Lock has been a powerful tool in maintaining the value of pensions, and based on government forecasts and the work of independent pension experts, the cost of the Triple Lock is only 0.1% of GDP.

The Conservative Party is refusing to commit to the Triple lock, but once this commitment to pensioners has been breached then it is likely we will see more and more pensioners slipping into poverty as years go by. Already, since 2011 under the Conservatives, 400000 more pensioners are living in poverty.

This is of course not the only area of controversy surrounding pensions. Changes to the retirement age introduced in 2011 without adequate communication and at short notice, have particularly disadvantaged women, many of whom have campaigned to highlight the injustice. The Labour Party is fully committed to addressing the hardships caused.

Furthermore, the Conservative government’s recent review of the pension age, conducted by John Cridland CBE, recommends bringing forward from 2044 to 2037 the planned increase in retirement age to 68. Labour does not believe that the case has been made for a further increase of the retirement age, particularly as many jobs are extremely challenging for older people. It is not only difficult to see how someone can continue in a manual job like road maintenance up to 68, but jobs like being a Teaching Assistant can also be physically demanding, and hard for an older person.

While the government is directly responsible for the state pension provision, it is also important to highlight the difficulties being caused by very low annuity rates for those retiring with a defined contribution scheme, these low annuity rates are being caused by the low returns on investment caused by the government’s austerity programme, and the lack of economic growth. Labour’s plans to grow the economy, through – for example – a National Investment Bank, and regional development banks will unlock £500 billion of investment in the productive economy, which will lead to higher returns on investments, benefitting pensioners relying on investment income through their pension funds.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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