Bring Back Local Bank Managers Says Hain

The banks are ‘completely failing small businesses’ and must reappoint local Branch managers again, says Neath MP Peter Hain.

Speaking to a meeting of the Swansea Bay Federation of small Businesses in the Castle hotel, Neath, Mr Hain said that official statistics showed over 40 per cent of small businesses applying for loans were turned down.  ‘Instead of supporting business to invest and create jobs like happens in Germany and other more successful economises, the banks are starving them of finance.”

Mr Hain said: “Surveys consistently show that small business owners believe access to finance is the biggest barrier to them growing their business. Labour will create the British Investment Bank, its priority will be investing to SME’s and it will be vital to helping develop a localised network of investment banks across the country.”

“Coupled with the Green Investment Bank it will help spearhead the recovery away from the South East by developing expert localised business knowledge to work with SMEs.”

The former Secretary of State suggested a number of measures which he felt would combat the disconnection he identified as occurring between centralised money lenders and the local business communities of South Wales, including having local branch managers able to lend substantial amounts of money to local businesses.

Mr Hain told the audience: This has been a problem and a dangerous game since 2010, it leaves our SMEs struggling with rising costs, yet they employ around 60% of the private sector workforce, more has to be done to not only help them survive but to grow and prosper.”

He continued by saying: “The next Labour government has a range of initiatives which will help small businesses, we will freeze energy bills until 2017, benefitting 2.5 million small businesses, saving them £1.5 billion in total.”

“We will cut small business rates in 2015, and freeze them in 2016, we need to place priority on small businesses in stark contrast to this government which is giving a corporation tax cut to the largest firms, a measure which only benefits the major urban areas.”

Mr Hain was also keen to highlight the successes of Welsh Government in helping support SMEs through better access to funding, he said: “During the past year Wales has launched the Wales SME Fund, which will give £40 million to SMEs, it is expected to create over 4,000 jobs.”

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Neath pubs get backing from Hain

Peter Hain MP has given his support to local pubs by voting to introduce a new code to support small landlords and give consumers greater choice. He voted to demand that the Government introduces legislation in this year’s Queen’s Speech to support local pubs.

An estimated 26 pubs are closing each week in Britain and the large chains of pub companies (PubCos) have been accused of giving landlords a raw deal, with many paying over the odds for their alcoholic products.

‘We have some excellent local pubs in Neath and our Valley towns and villages. But huge numbers have closed in recent years and action is needed now,’ said Mr Hain.

Calling for legislation to introduce a statutory code protecting small landlords and ensuring they are no longer exploited in their relationship with pub companies Mr Hain said, ‘Pubs are vital hubs for our towns and villages, where communities have come together for generations and are valued strongly by local people.

‘Inaction by the Tory-led government and broken promises on backing small landlords means they are closing at an ever-increasing rate, which affects jobs, especially for young people and hits the economy by an average of £80,000 each time a pub shuts.

‘We need to back our local pubs. These are difficult times for all local businesses which is why we need to support them and why this code is desperately needed to help them compete in an increasingly cut throat market. ‘It’s time for the Tories to take real action to support small landlords otherwise our area risks losing more pubs, and more jobs.’

As campaigners have demanded, the code must include a free-of-tie option, open market rent reviews and an independent pubs adjudicator. This would give every landlord the choice to go free-of-tie, allowing licencees to operate in a more competitive market.

A statutory code is being supported by a broad coalition including the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the Federation of Small Businesses and trade unions.

Federation of Small Businesses

People in Neath have been challenged to support their local independent shops as part of the Federation of Small Businesses’ Keep Trade Local Campaign.

Neath MP Peter Hain showed his support for traders in the town centre as he visited local members of the FSB as part of the UK-wide campaign.

Mr Hain visited Neath Music in Water Street, and spoke to proprietor Adrian Bamford, before heading on to florist Bella Fiori in Neath Market, where he chatted to owner Huw Jones. He later stopped for coffee at the town’s famous Castle Hotel where he spoke with proprietor Sally Rowlands.

After visiting the traders he urged people to support the local businesses which define Neath’s character as a market town.

”We are lucky to have a good variety of independent shops in Neath, including those I have visited today,” he said.

”However, in these times of austerity, conditions are challenging for many independent retailers and I would encourage people to support the local businesses in Neath town centre, and those in our famous market, so that we continue to have a thriving town centre which will be attractive to shoppers in the years to come.”

Mr Hain is among a number of politicians from all the major parties who are visiting local traders in communities across Wales this summer as part of events organised by the FSB.

Traders in Neath are part of the FSB’S Swansea Bay Branch, which takes in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot and has a membership of around 1700 small businesses.

Branch Secretary Sean Harris said: ”We are glad that Mr Hain has joined us today, and given his support to small independent businesses in Neath. We know that small businesses in the town have a lot to offer shoppers, not only in value and convenience, but also through the friendly and knowledgeable service they can provide.”

”We could encourage people to  make the most of the businesses that are on their doorstep, and support local retailers, coffee shops and tradespeople, so that they can continue to provide a valuable service and support employment in the town in the years to come. Once a High Street has fallen into decline the trend can be very difficult to reverse. It is something we have seen happening elsewhere but can be avoided in Neath if people here support their local traders.”

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‘The FSB is the UK’s leading business organisation with around 200,000 members, 10,000 of whom are in Wales. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the UK’s Real-Life Entrepreneurs who run their own business. More information is available at: www.fsb.org.uk/wales

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Hain adds Support to Swansea Bay’s City of Culture 2017 bid

MP for Neath Peter Hain has joined fellow Labour MP Geraint Davies in voicing his support for Swansea Bay’s bid to be named City of Culture 2017. The region, which includes Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthen, is competing against a number of other cities in the UK for the honour.

According to Mr Hain, ‘This is an exciting opportunity for the Swansea Bay area to receive the recognition it deserves as a world-class innovator in the creative arts and other industries.’

UK City of Culture is a designation given to a city in Britain for one year and is awarded every four years. The initiative is administered by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and aims to recreate the significant social and economic benefits that Liverpool experienced during its year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. The inaugural holder of the award in 2013 is Derry.

Mr Hain continues, ‘Swansea uniquely harnesses the power of its cultural heritage in order to nurture future generations of talent. In addition to those who work in the creative industries, Swansea University and Swansea Metropolitan University also empowers our future doctors, teachers, engineers and sportsmen and women to the benefit of both the Swansea Bay area and the wider community.’

Concluding, Mr Hain says, ‘City of Culture 2017 status would be a great asset to the region as it looks forward to a future of growth and stability and evolves from an economy of traditional industry towards one of creative innovation.’