Calls for small business support

Rye Chamber of Commerce met with shadow attorney general, Emily Thornberry and Labour Parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, Helena Dollimore, last Saturday, December 3, Small Business Saturday, to showcase the town’s Christmas festival and to discuss the economic challenges that Rye faces and possible policy solutions.

On one of the most important trading days in the town’s calendar, the shadow minister and Ms. Dollimore had a chance to tour the high street which is proudly made up almost entirely of independently owned shops and businesses. The Christmas festival has only been made possible by the collaborative efforts of business owners determined to encourage footfall in the town.

Rye businesses deliberately chose to hold their Christmas festival on Small Business Saturday in order to ride the publicity wave generated by this national awareness day and encourage locals and visitors to shop independent.

Rother District Council’s campaign to Shop Local, Eat Local, Support Local has also been welcomed by the town but Rye Chamber has been quick to point out that the onus isn’t simply on the consumer to keep the town and its businesses alive.

Jane Brook, chair of the Rye Chamber says: “There’s no argument that we must all support our local independent businesses by choosing them over big brands and online shopping but at the same time government needs to understand the unique set of challenges faced by small businesses. We need policies that will help us to survive the recession and thrive beyond it.”

She added: “We discussed with the shadow minister and candidate Helena Dollimore what we see as the top three threats we face – the lack of a taper on VAT for small business is punishing; the radical revaluation of business rates means that some businesses that previously qualified for small business relief will no longer benefit, and the abrupt and unprecedented hike in energy and other costs is hitting hard. Sadly some businesses simply won’t survive this triple impact. There has to be a serious rethink of policies designed to enable small businesses – the engine of our entire economy – to survive and thrive.”

Helena Dollimore, Labour’s candidate for Hastings and Rye, said: “It’s great to mark the tenth anniversary of Small Business Saturday by speaking to the small businesses in Rye. It is our independent shops, cafes, pubs, and hotels that do so much to enrich our lives and our community across Hastings and Rye, providing jobs, training, and driving economic growth. I would also like to thank the work of Rye Chamber for all they do to give our local businesses a voice.

Labour and small business supporters with Emily Thornberry and Helena Dollimore

“Businesses tell us how hard recent years have been, and now they face further challenges like unfair business rates, supply chain issues, and soaring energy costs. That’s why I am delighted to have taken several of our local Hastings and Rye businesses to meet Keir Starmer last week and bring Emily Thornberry to Rye high street today to hear this first-hand.

“We have also shared our new plans, like overhauling business rates and getting the tax balance right between bricks and mortar businesses on our high streets and online giants like Airbnb. A Labour government will launch the biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation, with support for small businesses to help them thrive at the heart of our new approach. We will also support the self-employed by extending protections like the right to sick pay.”

Emily Thornberry, shadow attorney general said: “It has been good to hear from small business owners in Rye today about the challenges they are facing and how Labour can support them. Labour has a plan that will make a real difference for business owners looking to get on, both immediately and in the long term.

“In Helena Dollimore, we have a Labour candidate who will listen to and stand up for small businesses across Hastings and Rye to ensure they can thrive. ”

Image Credits: Image supplied by Sarah Broadbent , Supplied by Helena Dollimore .

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  1. It’s very good to see Labour paying attention to small businesses; taxation policy at the national level needs to change or our high streets will either become residential streets and/or taken up by chains. Historically, it seems that all the parties have ignored this important sector of the UK. Rye and many other communities thrive because of what small businesses bring to our communities and if Labour can truly deliver on this after 12 years of Conservative government inaction, that would be very much welcomed.

  2. Small business are at the heart of small towns like Rye & Hastings, every £5 spent means a great deal to these owners but not only that they play a vital part in being a community hub for sharing services, activities and events that keep the towns alive. Great to see Labour has a plan.

    • There’s always a plan when campaigning but it’s a different story when you’re making the decisions, I’m confident that Labour could make just as big a mess of it given the chance.
      Wasn’t it always so?

    • That is such a cliché, but good news that in the eight years since she made the stupid comment I assume you are referencing, she has not made any similar slip-ups. I wonder whether Andrea Jenkins MP, who gave a very insulting one finger gesture to the waiting crowd as she came out of Number 10 earlier this year will have a similarly good record. I can guess what the answer might be.


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