Labour’s Shadow Business secretary Chuka Umunna MP was in Cambridge yesterday meeting business people and promoting Small Business Saturday on December 7. The UK is celebrating its first Small Business Saturday this year, and Mr Umunna says it is a great chance for small businesses to promote themselves and generate trade. In the US, where it is an established commercial holiday, it generated $5.5 billion in sales in 2012. He visited independent retailers in King Street with Cambridge Labour Parliamentary Candidate Daniel Zeichner where they heard about the challenges facing small shops, and the work being done through the Business Improvement District to promote local shopping facilities.
Earlier in the day he had visited world-leading Cambridge company Abcam and met start-up businesses at the St John’s Innovation Centre. Reflecting on what he had heard during the day in Cambridge, he said:
‘We are at a crossroads, people are finding it harder and harder than ever before and earning less and this needs to change. That is what I was told when I was with our Labour parliamentary candidate Daniel Zeichner talking with local businesses on the high street about our energy freeze and business rates cut to support millions of firms like those in Cambridge. Part of my visit was also to look at how we grow the economy and create the jobs of the future. Cambridge is at the forefront of the creation of these new businesses and is exactly what we need to replicate across the country. I met some quite brilliant companies like Abcam. It’s phenomenal growth to a billion pound company and global leader, which began with just a small amount of money, is the type of business success story we need to celebrate and learn from to help create the decent jobs we need. But there are important lessons and what I was repeatedly told was that government shouldn’t stand aside but instead be prepared to support business growth by, for example, addressing the chronic lack of finance holding back the growth of companies and future success. This is exactly what a Labour Government would help address with our plans for a British Investment Bank and network of regional banks.’