We'll be watching and reporting more about Reed (Croydon North) and Scully (Sutton & Cheam) over the coming period. If you have information or insights - do let us know.
New Labour Steve Reed was asking questions in Parliament the other day about “business rate retention” by local authorities.
The argument goes that if councils can retain for themselves more of the rates paid by businesses, this will “incentivise” councils to help businesses grow. Councils will need to implement policies, in competition with each other, that will “attract business investors”.
This is a policy being developed right now by the Tories. But how would it “incentivise” councils?
The idea is old hat. Not only councils, but also Governments themselves around the world are encouraged to compete with each other for the favours of the monied classes and big corporations.
Advertisement are placed in appropriate journals aimed at councils and entire countries. These say, in essence, “Please invest here! Look! - we offer low wages, low or zero business taxes, precious little financial regulation, anti-union laws, no environmental rules. We are a corporate haven! Come and exploit our workforce!”
Cut to the chase - you can make more money for your shareholders if you invest here.
But this approach benefits big business very much more than it does small and medium businesses.
These kind of “incentivisations” - lauded by the Reeds and the Scullys - are much better exploited by big companies - who employ lobbyists, have access to corporate lawyers and planners etc, and who can squeeze the very maximum out of the arrangements - and squeeze out smaller firms.
Take the Sunday trading laws. They are to be abolished, so that Sunday will be like any other day for shopping. The beneficiaries will not be small and medium businesses.
On 6th July the Financial Times said, “George Osborne will offer to rip up the remaining restrictions on Sunday trading in Wednesday’s Budget in a move that will delight big retailers but antagonise corner shops…”.
We are in favour of supporting small and medium businesses. Their main enemy is not TUSC or democratic socialism, but big business!
If we ran Croydon or Sutton council, we would reduce their rates. We would involve them in the planning processes for the improvement of key retail areas so that Big Retail didn’t squeeze them out.
And a nationalised and democratically run banking sector could also (and would) help them by providing safe and accessible loans. In return we would expect them to be equally supportive of their employees.
The question of youth unemployment and youth services should have been the cause for some anger and offered the opportunity for Reed to campaign for solutions to match up to the scale of the issue. See "Youth Fight for Jobs".
Instead, in June, he merely asked the Cabinet Office, “what steps is the minister taking to ensure that local authority-funded youth services are maintained at their current level”.
At their current level!!! - as though the current level was sufficient!
But then what else can we expect? Labour has swallowed the Tory arguments that we must “cut back”, we must “balance the books".
Floored by Reed's knock-out-blow question, the Tory Minister simply said that it is up councils to sort out this issue - by “promoting innovative delivery models for youth services”.