Once again, we hear from Conservative Members who think that it is a success if people are in work but in poverty. I had someone in my constituency surgery just two weeks ago who is doing three of the jobs that have been created and he still cannot afford to pay the mortgage—that is the reality of the recovery that they are delivering. He might sit there and tell his constituents, “Don’t worry, trust me, I’ve seen the figures and everything is getting better,” but people look in their wallets at the end of the month and know that in 40 out of the past 41 months wages have gone up by less than the costs that they face. That is the reality of the recovery that his party is delivering.
Lending to small firms has been a major problem since the banking crisis. Labour’s enterprise finance guarantee scheme made a difference, but the funding problem for small and medium-sized enterprises has become a crisis since 2010. Net lending has fallen in 24 of the past 30 months and SMEs still rank access to finance as a key business issue.
The Government are failing on the high street. They failed to give the Portas review serious backing and the local authority funding bombshell undermined the very organisations that Mary Portas envisioned would lead the small shop revolution. A cost-of-doing-business crisis is hitting British business, with 87% of firms reporting that energy costs have gone up in the past year and 83% of firms believing that the cost of doing business will be higher next year.