Yesterday Louise welcomed Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls to Stockton South to launch Labour’s economic plan for the North East.
Louise and Ed visited award winning Cotswold Manufacturing, based in Thornaby, who make doors for domestic, public and commercial premises all around the country. They have kitted out London and Manchester apartments for instance along with many of the country’s army barracks and numerous hotels, schools and universities. They wish, as do we all, that there was more work in the North East so they don’t have to focus so much on the capital with articulated wagons driving up and down the M1 full of doors and sets.
Ed talked during his visit of Labour’s better plan for the North East which will see a rise in the minimum wage, cuts and a freeze in business rates for SMEs and apprenticeships for every school leaver with the grades. We also have an ambitious programme to devolve billions in funding, handing the North East the economic power to shape our own future.
We won’t accept the Tories' plan to support a few people and firms at the top with tax cuts, and hope that wealth trickles down to everyone else. Labour’s plan backs small businesses and new entrepreneurs who will provide the growth and jobs of the future.
Speaking whilst touring Cotswold Manufacturing, Ed Balls said:
“It’s not enough to have more jobs, we need more good jobs.
“The number of apprenticeships in the North-East has gone down and part of our plan is to increase that number and get the skills we need.
“We will not play fast and loose with North-East jobs.
“We will guarantee every school leaver that gets the right grades gets a high quality apprenticeship, just as people with good A-levels have a right to go to university.
“Also, when the Conservatives say their plan is working, most people say who is it working for?
“That’s why we will put small businesses first with lower business rates, because cashflow holds them back more than other firms.
“This would cut and freeze rates for 71,000 companies in the North-East.
“Increasing the minimum wage would lift wages for 76,200 low paid workers in this region too.”
He also said Labour would ensure the UK remained in a reformed EU, prolonging the North East’s status as the only British region with an export surplus and not taking risks with jobs and long term investment in the region.
Welcoming Labour’s plan, Louise said:
“It was great to welcome Ed Balls to Thornaby to launch Labour’s economic plan for our region.
Ken, Stewart, Martin, their excellent office manager and all the other good people at Cotswold Manufacturing were very welcoming. They are a great local firm who really support staff training, everyone in the company is encouraged to take up opportunities for training and give themselves the best possible chances, not just the lads on the shop floor but the staff in the offices too, studying for CIPS for instance. We met one apprentice just weeks away from completing his level 3 NVQ and contemplating level 4, along with another who has not long joined the company and is enjoying starting on his own NVQ qualifications at college.
We had an excellent visit; the management team showed us all over the factory floor and talked about their history and growth. We watched various processes very carefully and were able to try some of the equipment ourselves. The robot in particular was a talking point, the first one of its kind in door manufacturing in the UK.
I was very interested in Cotswold’s plans for a trade counter which I am looking forward to visiting on opening day at the end of March. I worked at Crossley Ferguson back in 1988/9 and had an association with Sarek Joinery which many of today’s staff have come from. I worked on a trade counter and in the timber yard back then and look forward to unofficially offering some marketing suggestions to help with the project, with my own business hat on.
Labour’s plan will give us here in the North East the power to drive the growth of our regional economy. As a small business owner and as a member of several Teesside business networks, I know Labour’s support for SMEs will be very welcome. Smaller and medium sized firms like Cotswold Manufacturing are crucial to our local economy and Labour's plan will support them to grow and provide more job opportunities for local people.
I was also delighted to be in a factory just yards from the one where I had my first job when I left school in 1983. It was called CEC Time Ltd then but now it is Stork. As well as being very informative and a good opportunity to showcase Cotswold’s work along with our plans, it was a bit of a trip down memory lane too. A great visit.
Thanks very much for having us."
There are some excellent photos of the visit from local photographer Ian Forsyth here.
More detail on Labour’s plan to build prosperity across our economy:
Labour will back small businesses and new entrepreneurs who will provide the growth and jobs of the future. The Tories won’t put small business first. Labour will:
- Cut business rates for small businesses
- Improve training and apprenticeships
- Promote competition in energy and banking to ensure market efficiency, lower bills and better access to finance
- Establish a British Investment Bank, and support a regional banking network to boost lending for SMEs
- Introduce a Small Business Administration to co-ordinate work across government to benefit smaller businesses
- Hand more economic power to the North East to shape our own future, with billions in devolved funding
Labour will back our biggest exporters which need certainty to invest. The Tories are sleepwalking towards exit from the EU, risking jobs and growth at home. Labour will:
Stay in a reformed EU and not take risks with our membership
Ensure there will be no further transfer of powers to the European Union without the explicit consent of the British people.
Support businesses in the UK to export through better access to finance, better skills including language skills and supported access to markets.
Build a strong economic foundation with a tough and balanced approach to cutting the deficit
Make long-term investment by implementing the Armitt Review recommendation for a National Infrastructure Commission
Guarantee that Britain has the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7
Promote long-termism by changing the rules on takeovers
Labour will take action to help make work pay and stop firms being undercut. Labour will:
- Ban exploitative zero hours contracts
- Raise the National Minimum Wage closer to average earnings — £8 an hour by 2020
- Offer tax breaks to employers who adopt the Living Wage
- Make it illegal to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers
- Introduce a new, lower 10p starting rate of tax benefiting 24 million working people on middle and lower incomes, paid for by scrapping the unfair marriage tax allowance.
- Introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, paid for by a bank bonus tax, to provide a paid starter job for everyone young person unemployed for over a year which they will have to take up or lose benefits
Labour will back every sector of the economy by ensuring the public sector plays an active part in driving up productivity by:
- Recognising its role in supporting cutting-edge innovation and research
- Making strategic investment and procurement decisions
If you’re interested in reading more about our economic plan, you can here.