Hain welcomes small business rates freeze pledge

MP for Neath Peter Hain has backed a proposal to cut business rates for small and medium businesses in 2015 and freeze them in 2016.

‘Small independent businesses in Neath are really struggling. I shop in the town on a regular basis and I particularly enjoy buying local produce from our fantastic indoor market, the heart of Neath. However, with shops and small businesses across the country due to see their business rates increase by an average of £430 from next April, many traders will simply buckle under the cost of doing business,’ he said.

The Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has announced that a Labour Government would implement this rates cuts and freeze policy after the next general election.

According to Mr Hain, cutting and then freezing business rates would save small business owners nearly £450 on average. Labour would also give local people more power to shape towns such as Neath by working with the local authority and local businesses in order to make the high street a more vibrant place.

Mr Hain continues, ‘Many jobs are created and sustained by a large number of small businesses. This is why Labour, the party of small businesses, is offering them support so that they can continue to create jobs and lead the economic recovery both in Neath and across the country.’

Labour Must Make Case For Borrowing Out Of Recession

Guardian 

Peter Hain, one of the earliest shadow cabinet supporters of Ed Miliband, has urged the shadow Treasury team to do more to make Labour’s case for growth in the aftermath of the local elections.

Hain, writing for Progress Online, suggests he would like the party to be less equivocal about its economic policy and warns that if the party is to win an outright majority at the general election it will need to be performing electorally better than at present.

He writes: “I’m confident Labour can win the economic argument if Ed [Miliband] has the support of a loyal team around him. It’s important that all members of the shadow cabinet play their full role in explaining and defending Labour’s policy and approach.

“Labour’s Treasury team need to get out on the stump now and work even harder. It shouldn’t just be left to Ed and Harriet to carry the heavy load, whether on the World at One, the Today programme or anywhere else.”

Hain, who resigned from the shadow cabinet to pursue other political interests, fears a caution about borrowing is causing voter indecision about Labour. He insists the results are encouraging and show “we have come a long way under the leadership of Ed Miliband since 2010”. But the party also has a way to go, he says.

“If a general election was held tomorrow, Labour wouldn’t win a majority,” he says. “This was always going to be a big ask – under any leader – after our terrible result in 2010.”

He adds: “We’re half way there, both in terms of time lapsed and progress made. I’m confident we’ve done enough to stop the Tories winning outright, and produce another hung parliament. But the truth is if we want a majority in 2015, we need to be performing better than we are now.”

The local election results, he suggests, mean Ukip will remain a political force right up to the next election – but he argues this will benefit Labour.

He writes: “The old Tory-Labour duopoly has been broken. Ukip will remain a force at the next general election, with momentum from next year’s European elections. The right will remain split, at the Tories’ expense. The Lib Dems will do badly in the national share of the vote but probably hold on to all or most of the seats where they are well dug-in and contesting with the Tories; where they are fighting us they will lose. Labour is well-placed in this new four-party arena.”

He argues that the debate about the economy, not welfare or immigration, will ultimately determine the election. “Labour’s focus for the next two years should be squarely on the economy and living standards,” he writes.

“We cannot afford to be equivocal about our economic policy. We need to be more upfront with the public about our intentions. Yes, we will borrow more in the short-term, in order to generate growth that will reduce borrowing in the medium-term. It makes sense to do so with interest rates so low. We will borrow to invest in new homes, major infrastructure projects, refurbishing schools, creating employment. Schemes that will stimulate the economy. But we will nevertheless run a tight fiscal regime.”

Concerns held among those further to the left in the party were also expressed by the veteran Labour MP Michael Meacher. Miliband’s leadership, he argued, had “rightly discarded New Labour neoliberalism, but not yet put anything resonant in its place”.

He added: “What is missing is not more policy, but two or three key exciting ideas which really resonate with the public and set the pulse racing a bit.”

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Severn Barrage: Peter Hain Reveals Most Detailed Plans Yet

Western Mail 

The most detailed plans yet have been revealed for the Severn Barrage. Martin Shipton reports

The fate of the proposed Severn Barrage could be determined in the first half of 2013, it has emerged.

Former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, who resigned from the Shadow Cabinet to campaign for the scheme, has called on the UK Government to back it within that timescale. He believes that as well as providing 5% of the UK’s electricity needs, it could transform the economy of South Wales.

He said: “The Barrage will power the UK for more than 120 years, cleanly, securely and sustainably generating as much electricity as three to four nuclear reactors or more than 3,000 wind turbines. It injects more than £25bn of private investment into the UK economy – no Treasury funding is needed at all. With the multiplier impact on the economy, that is a stimulus of about £70bn.

“The Barrage will be a massive boost to the economies of South Wales and the South West of England, with 80% of the investment being spent in the UK; other forms of renewable energy have to date imported up to 80% of their equipment and services from abroad. Some 50,000 jobs will be created during the nine-year build, also leaving a legacy of industrial, tourism and leisure jobs.

“Some 1,026 turbines will be installed in the Barrage – new, slow-spin turbine technology capable of being exported from Britain to the rest of the world. Gigantic caissons will be built and assembled and then floated out from its deep-water casting yard at Port Talbot, which will be transformative for South West Wales. The other benefit is a legacy in Port Talbot of the largest deep-water port in North West Europe, which would be ideal for the new generation of container ships – ultra-large container ships which otherwise would have to find a port on the other side of Britain.”

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