Ed Miliband outlines Labour support for small businesses

Ed Miliband attempted to woo small firms during his address to the Federation of Small Businesses.

Speaking at the FSB conference Mr Miliband reaffirmed his pledge that a Labour government would cut business rates, suggesting that for many small firms they can often be higher than rents.

The Labour leader also suggested that his party would establish a “US-style Small Business Administration” to safeguard the needs of small firms in government.

The idea had previously been announced by shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who has met with US officials to determine how the Administration might be run.

Mr Miliband said: “I know the party I lead must recognise that millions of working people are working for themselves, and we do recognise it. I want to tell you today what that means for a Labour government.

“It means putting the needs of small businesses front and centre of our government’s priorities. It means opening up competition and removing the obstacles placed in your way by powerful vested interests.

“And it means working together, so we can provide the support that all of our small and medium-sized businesses need.”

Mr Miliband also suggested that the FSB could be given legal powers to take to court members’ cases of alleged late payment. The FSB could also be given a role in deciding which cases are investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Earlier in the conference Conservative Chancellor George Osborne pledged his own support for small businesses. He announced a consultation on new plans that could make it easier for small businesses to access alternative finance.