Small Business Saturday will take place on the 6 December, and as this is ahead of my next column I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you all to support local businesses in Sutton Coldfield by shopping and using their services not only on 6 December, but also throughout the year.
Small businesses are responsible for nearly half the job creation in the UK, which is why the Government has put so much effort into supporting them by getting rid of unnecessary red tape and regulations which cost businesses so much, cutting corporation tax, and reducing National Insurance Bills. This is clearly working, having led to the creating of 400,000 more small businesses since 2010.
We are very fortunate to have a wealth of small businesses in our Town offering a vast range of services. Their efforts, especially in the tough economic times that we have faced over the last few years, should be applauded and encouraged. Many of these businesses do fantastic work for our Town, not only in their day to day activities but also through their willingness to support local events, putting them right at the centre of the community spirit that makes Royal Sutton Coldfield the place it is.
I am privileged as Sutton Coldfield’s MP to be able to see first-hand the range of local businesses that serve Sutton Coldfield and I take every opportunity possible to visit as many of them as possible. It is gratifying to know that my constituents are so well provided for, by people within our own community. I am often amazed by the innovative approaches taken by Sutton’s businesses to the services they offer, and impressed by the quality of service provided.
I was reminded of this recently when I visited Fairway Homecare & Training, an organisation which demonstrates not only commitment to serving the local community but also on improving the job prospects of unemployed people through the development of a training programme for unpaid carers, volunteers and people who have struggled to find paid employment, focusing on catering, home care and childcare. In the last year Fairway offered to support for more than 150 individuals, almost 100 of whom are now in stable, paid employment.
Apprenticeships are an important way of giving young people the necessary skills to find employment. Under the current Government there has been a rise of nearly a third in the number of workplaces employing Apprentices – a national rise that is replicated in Sutton Coldfield, and is one of a number of indicators that the job market in Sutton, and in Britain more widely, is looking up. Fairway is also doing its bit to support the drive for apprenticeships, having employed 26 apprentices. 20 of those apprentices are now working as care professionals, together delivering nearly 22,000 hours of care in the local area. They are planning to employ a further 40 apprentices in 2014-15 and I am aware that many other local small businesses operate an apprenticeship programme.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our community, and should be supported not only by the Government but also by the community they serve.