Jack Sargeant Column: “Small businesses are the life blood of our economy”
Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant writes a regular column on Deeside.com with updates on his work in the Welsh Parliament and closer to home.
Jack writes: Following the recent devastating news of 1,700 job losses at Airbus, our local economy is under threat.
Whilst I will continue to campaign for a UK Government bailout, we must begin to prepare for the possible repercussions.
The effect of these job losses will be felt throughout the community, having a knock-on effect on local small businesses across Flintshire and beyond.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of small businesses. Not only do they contribute to the local economy, providing employment opportunities and driving growth, but they are also the heart and soul of our highstreets and town centres.
Local businesses provide a sense of community which is hard to replicate in large corporations and chain stores. Many of us will have gained friends through visiting our local businesses regularly.
I myself describe my Barber as my therapist, providing an environment I feel comfortable with. Our chats are hugely beneficial for my mental health and I am so grateful to him for always taking the time to listen.
These small businesses which are so vital in so many ways need our support now more than ever. Coronavirus continues to pose an unprecedented threat to our economy and whilst existing financial grants are welcome, sustained and comprehensive backing will be required to ensure businesses are able to come out the other side.
Over the past months I’ve been using my platform to ensure the voices of small business owners are heard by those in positions of power and have been providing many business owners with regular updates as the situations has developed.
I’ve been working closely with the Deeside Business Forum to ensure I understand the challenges being faced. I would like to thank the Forum’s chair Askar Sheibani for his continued assistance with this.
Through sustained communication with the Welsh Government, my office has been able to secure financial assistance for several small local businesses through the economic resilience fund including local favourite Dandy’s Landscape Supplies Centre.
I’ve also worked closely with Flintshire County Council, encouraging them to use their discretion to support micro-businesses who otherwise would not be eligible for Government grants. One such business to benefit from this has been the Wizz Kidz indoor soft play zone.
As a business which must currently remain closed under Welsh Government guidelines they were in desperate need of support and financial assistance from FCC was greatly appreciated.
Similarly, I was pleased to be able to assist Deeside Gymnastics club in finding funding sources for new premises following Deeside Leisure Centre’s conversion to a hospital.
Without an appropriate training facility, the club risked losing British Championship Gymnastics to rival clubs. Access to sports clubs is vital for society’s physical and mental health, we must support them to ensure they survive this difficult time.
It is not just Governments that need to play their part in ensuring small businesses survive, however. An issue constituents have frequently approached me with over the last few months is that of insurance companies refusing to pay out despite having business interruption insurance.
They are told that because coronavirus is not previously a specified disease, they cannot claim. Most reasonable people would point out that COVID-19 has only existed since late last year, so it is very unlikely to be a specified disease. This simply is not good enough.
I have written to a number of insurance companies on behalf of business owners, including Mirror Mirror Hair and Beauty Salon and the Broad Oak pub, calling for them to see sense and pay these businesses what they are due.
In a letter to the Association of British Insurers, I highlighted the key role they must play in supporting the economy at this time and stressed that currently businesses are being let down by insurance firms.
I have also raised the issue with the First Minister during a meeting of the Senedd, asking for the Welsh Government to exercise their influence on the matter.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and it is in everyone’s best interests that they are supported to the fullest extent by all parties involved.
I will continue to stand up for them at every opportunity and encourage anyone who needs my help to get in contact at Jack.Sargeant@Senedd.Wales – we will do everything we can to support you.
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