Supporting the local businesses

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The first ever ‘Small Business Saturday’ took place last week with events attended by MPs of all parties across the country.

I discussed the issue with the developers of the Wallsend Forum beforehand.

Small Business Saturday is a new grass-roots campaign that encourages people to shop locally and support and celebrate small businesses in the local community.

The timing was also aimed at boosting small businesses on a crucial shopping day in the run-up to Christmas, as well as longer-term trade and helping to lift the high street.

The idea was initiated by Labour’s shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna and is based on an event in America.

During the three years it has been running Stateside, spending in small businesses rose with a long-term increase in customers. In fact, spending in small shops was around £3.5bn on the day itself.

It also helped with networking opportunities, championed their vital role in communities and created a buzz about entrepreneurship and people setting up businesses.

I am pleased that the British version has been adopted by all parties and a coalition of business organisations as well as councils of all parties. The campaign is non-political.

The parties obviously have big differences about economic strategy, but many are clear that most people are employed by small businesses and that they are crucial to jobs and growth.

I hope that this and future Small Business Saturdays help us all think and buy locally.