SHOPKEEPERS in Formby, Crosby and Maghull have all told me that the level of business rates is one of the biggest challenges which they face.
And talking to colleagues around the country, it is clear that this is a national problem.
That is why it is such good news that the next Labour government is committed to cutting business rates for small businesses.
People throughout my constituency will benefit from this approach simply because nearly half of all jobs are with small businesses and it is small businesses which are the life blood of our communities. We need small businesses to do well to support the local economy and to protect existing jobs.
And of course thousands of small businesses doing better because their costs are reduced will mean thousands of opportunities for new jobs to be created.
This is really about priorities and about supporting ordinary people.
Owners and employees will all benefit from this move and the benefits will be felt where they can have most effect, on our high streets and in small businesses across Sefton.
Small businesses are the driving force behind future jobs and growth. They now account for more than half of the economy and most new jobs in the next 15 years will be created by businesses which don’t yet exist.
But small business owners are facing a cost of living crisis, many under the pressure of business rate rises, up by an average of nearly £2,000 in this Parliament.
There are 40,000 empty shops in the UK.
More than one in 10 small businesses now says it spends the same or more on business rates as it does on rent.
A cut in business rates for small firms puts the majority of businesses first, whereas a corporation tax cut for large business benefits a handful of people at the top.
Cutting taxes for millionaires – paid for by the rest of us – was an example of exactly the same approach and shows the wrong set of priorities.
Small business owners pay their taxes and work hard to make a living. They cannot afford lavish tax avoidance schemes – unlike a number of high profile large businesses.
Small businesses also are at the heart of their communities. It is right that we support small businesses and a Labour government is committed to doing just that.
We need businesses to thrive if the economy is to recover.