Mersey candidates urged to back small firms

There will be local elections in five out of six councils in Liverpool city region in May and the Federation of Small Businesses is urging candidates to show their support for small businesses. Tony McDonough reports

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There will be council elections across Liverpool city region on May 5


Candidates standing in the local council elections across Liverpool city region in May are being urged to put small businesses “at the heart of decision-making”.

On Thursday, May 5, voters in Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Halton will go to the polls to vote in local council elections. Wirral will be of particular focus as it is currently under no overall control.

However, there will be no elections in Liverpool. The damning Max Caller report into the governance of the city council has recommended a redrawing of the ward boundaries and a reduction in the number of councillors. Therefore there will be no local elections in the city until 2023.

Small businesses, those with 49 employees or fewer, make up more than 99% of the total number of businesses in the UK, they employ about 60% of the country’s workforce and account for half of the turnover of the entire private sector.

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Now the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is urging all candidates to sign up to its Local Leadership Partnership pledge. It asks candidates to commit to creating a small business champion post within the council, as well as a council officer role dedicated to ensuring small firms are well represented in decision-making within local authorities.

It also calls on candidates to work with FSB to develop supportive policies for small businesses in their authority area, as set out in the new Local Leadership document. This would outline the ways local and combined authorities across England can work with and empower small businesses and the self-employed.

Latest FSB statistics show confidence amongst the small business community has hit a one-year low after consecutive quarterly falls – with more than three quarters of small businesses (78%) saying their outgoings have increased.

During the pandemic local and combined authorities have worked closely with FSB and small firms. Continued partnership will continue to help small businesses through an already tumultuous recovery. Among the recommendations, FSB is calling on local authorities to:

  • Have both a dedicated elected member Small Business Champion and a ‘single point of contact’ staff member representing small firms.
  • Set out a net zero engagement plan for small firms, targeting specific sectors, highlighting what net zero means for them, and how they can help reach net zero.
  • Encourage and support small firms to invest in leadership and management training, as well as offering digital skills training alongside vouchers for software or hardware, where possible.

FSB is also encouraging the 4.9m small businesses and self-employed across England, and their staff, to come out and vote in their local elections on 5 May to make sure their voice is heard.

Michael Sandys, the FSB’s area leader for Liverpool city region, said: “There are so many challenges currently facing small firms and the self-employed. As well as the sky-high energy costs, increasing prices and staff absences, businesses are trying to tackle things like skills gaps amongst their teams and debt acquired during the pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic our small firms stepped up and supported their communities with many local businesses relying on the services they supplied. We’d like to see Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and our local councils work with the FSB and small businesses in their area to ensure tangible and long-lasting impacts for both the small business community, as well as the economy as a whole.

“Ahead of next month’s local elections we’re asking candidates to get on board with our Local Leadership Partnership pledge to put small businesses and self-employed people at the heart of decisions made at local authority level.”

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