This week marks the launch of Labour's Business - a snappy pamphlet outlining a clear set of measures the Labour party needs to adopt if it is to start taking enterprise seriously. I am delighted that the editors, Alex Smith and Luke Bozier, offered A4e the chance to be involved, and our chapter - 'Who benefits? Enabling people-powered job creation in local economies' - is our chance to share some thoughts and examples from our work and partnerships in this area. Sitting alongside contributions from leading voices on this topic, including Chuka Umunna, Tessa Jowell, Kitty Ussher, Dominic Campbell, Erika Watson MBE, Hazel Blears, Mark Glover and Mariana Mazzucato, amongst many others, I hope that our insights help further the case for demonstrable and speedy action on enterprise in the UK.
It should not need saying, but this pamphlet has arrived at a crucial time - with responsibility for the UK's economic recovery falling to the private sector to create new jobs, enterprise and enterprise support need to come into sharp focus, and quickly. Alongside a more structured approach to expanding 'high growth' businesses, it's important that Labour also understands the need to create the conditions to support new business start-ups and that government enables people to build their own jobs through self-employment. This is a big challenge for politicians, the private sector and the country as a whole.
For me, the challenge is moving the political debate on so that it starts focusing on how we map enterprise support against our different local economies, thereby building a fair and lasting enterprise agenda which helps to engage the communities that need it the most. Currently, while start-up support and training exists throughout the UK, unemployed people are often left out of the equation. Targeted support to help unemployed people become self-employed has been in decline for a decade, and even where these targeted services exist, the link has remained weak between business start-ups and the unemployed. That has to change.
In the 20 or so years I have been at A4e, I have come to understand that in enterprise there can be no one-size-fits-all approach. Local economies need to be supported through new business start-ups which are tailored to the locality and personalised to the individuals moving into self-employment. It is only through looking at these issues in totality, breaking down silos between policy areas and encouraging innovation on the ground, that we can really start to make enterprise work hardest for those who need it the most. It is a challenge Labour should seize with both hands.
You can read our chapter in full, and the rest of the pamphlet, via the free download here: http://laboursbusiness.org.uk/
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