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1,355 businesses in Folkestone and Hythe close in past three years in Brexit hit to high street

December 6, 2019 2:57 PM

Simon Bishop outside empty shop in Folkestone ()The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of failing to protect local small businesses, after figures revealed that 1,355 businesses in the area have closed over the last three years.

It comes as the Liberal Democrats today (Saturday 7 December) unveil a series of measures to reverse this decline and boost local firms, to mark Small Business Saturday.

Recent figures show that 185 have closed in Folkestone and Hythe District between 2016 and 2018, a 16 per cent increase compared to the previous three years.

Across the UK one million businesses have closed their doors between 2016 and 2018, an increase of almost a third compared to 2013- 2015.

The Federation of Small Businesses has warned that a no deal Brexit, which Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to rule out, would mean more damage to firms. Firms are also being held back by the Conservative government's failure to reform business rates, and by new taxes on the self-employed that business groups have described as "disastrous".

Liberal Democrats have said that they will Stop Brexit and invest the £50 billion Remain Bonus in improving public services and tackling inequality. The party would also put in place a package of measures to support small businesses and boost high streets in Folkestone and Hythe District, including:

  • Creating a new 'start-up allowance' to support those starting new businesses with their living costs in the crucial first weeks of the business.
  • Increasing mentoring support to small business owners
  • Requiring Government agencies and larger firms to sign up to a new, enforceable, prompt payment code to ensure that small businesses never again suffer because of large businesses failing to pay on time.
  • Expanding the Future High Streets Fund to support the redevelopment of more town centres and high streets.
  • Supporting the development of the skills small businesses need by reforming the apprenticeship levy to become a skills and training levy where 25% of being targeted at areas with the greatest skills needs.

Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat candidate for Folkestone and Hythe, Simon Bishop, said:

"Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party have failed small businesses in Folkestone and Hythe, saddling them with years of Brexit uncertainty and ignoring urgent calls to reform business rates.

"1,355 local businesses have closed their doors under the Conservative government's watch. Each business closing represents jobs, investment and opportunities lost to our area.

"Now Boris Johnson wants to plunge small businesses into even more uncertainty and worry by pursuing a Brexit plan that risks yet another No Deal cliff edge in December 2020. They have lost any right to call themselves the party of business.

"The Liberal Democrats will rescue our high streets and boost local businesses by stopping Brexit, scrapping outdated business rates and introducing more support for entrepreneurs."

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats on the number of businesses closing. including in each region and local authority, is available here. The figures on businesses closing are taken from the ONS Business Demography 2018 (published 19 November 2019).

Two-fifths of SMEs surveyed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) believe a No Deal Brexit would damage their firm (Federation of Small Businesses).

The Conservative government is introducing IR35, which will change the way self employed contractors are dealt with in the tax system from April 2020. The Association of Independent Professionals and Self Employed has called the move "disastrous".