Levelling Up and Cheshire and Warrington – the devil’s in the delivery, says Federation of Small Businesses
Responding to the Government’s Levelling Up white paper announcement, FSB Area Leader for Cheshire, Darren Shaw, said:
“To ensure Levelling Up is a success, small businesses must be front and centre, with improvements made to connectivity, business support and skills development across the UK. The focus that the Government has put on locality, rejuvenating town centres and high streets, where the majority of businesses are small, is welcome.
“However, the devil will be in the delivery. In the towns and areas of the country where it is most important to level up, small businesses are not short of ambition and want to flourish and grow.
“Our research shows half of small business owners in these ‘less favoured areas’ are striving to become a business leader in their community. They need significant support if we are to make meaningful changes to communities and tackle regional inequalities.
“Support from the Towns Fund for Crewe and Warrington is positive, but it is important not to forget other villages and towns, and Cheshire’s rural economy. It is disappointing that some areas in most need of support will miss out when more affluent areas elsewhere will benefit from Levelling Up funding.
“In the wake of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan and HS2 announcement, we must not forget that local public transport is important to small businesses and their employees, and improvements in its frequency and quality are much needed, as well as a focus on improving deteriorating local roads.
“Housing is key to levelling up and while it’s a positive move to provide loans to small housing firms as part of the Home Building Fund, a small house builders strategy is needed to make certain smaller businesses are at the forefront of policy thinking.
“In Cheshire, we have built a strong support infrastructure as Chair of the Cheshire Business Group alongside the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and working closely with business organisations, local councils and government departments such as BEIS and DIT. It is important that Levelling Up acts to support this process so it can develop and continue to flourish.
“The acid test will be whether small firms, which are integral to our economic recovery, feel better supported, are better connected, can find the right staff and feel more pride in their area. With costs spiralling, potentially debilitating tax rises on the horizon and many more challenges, Levelling Up must now deliver lasting change – it cannot just be a worthy intention or partisan slogan.”