East Ham MP Stephen Timms supports small local businesses

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- Credit: Archant

Last Saturday was ‘Small Business Saturday’. I visited a number of Newham small firms to discuss how things are going. Small and independent businesses are the heart of our local economy. They make a vital contribution to the community, providing jobs and adding to the borough’s character. It’s all too easy to bypass them in favour of large chains.

The idea for ‘Small Business Saturday’ came from the USA. There, its a grass-roots campaign that encourages people to shop in locally owned businesses. The Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, came up with the idea of celebrating it in the UK. Last year was the first. It was the largest celebration of small businesses we have ever had, reckoned to have added £500 million to small business turnover around the country.

We have a remarkable array of businesses in Newham. There is of course a fantastic choice of food shops, reflecting the tastes of all the communities in which residents have their roots. And then we have businesses like Alf Onnie which has been selling fabric in East Ham since 1920; the amazing “Who” shop at the Boleyn; and Bernardes selling fabulous dolls’ houses at the Abbey Arms.

Their passion and expert knowledge cannot be rivalled by big corporations. Fascinating recent research has also shown that - of all the unemployed people who succeed in finding work - the great majority do it by finding a job in a small firm. Big businesses are much less willing to give people a break.

‘Small Business Saturday’ celebrates great work by local business owners nationwide. However, the celebration should not be confined to a single day. Let’s show consistent support, especially at this time of year, and make sure the local businesses which serve us so well can continue for many years to come. ‘Small Business Saturday’ celebrates great work by local business owners nationwide. However, the celebration should not be confined to a single day. Let’s show consistent support, especially at this time of year, and make sure the local businesses which serve us so well can continue for many years to come. More from Stephen


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