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Labour bid to lure small business by promising to tackle late payments and rates ahead of party conference

Labour will aim to position itself as the party of small business, just days after Rishi Sunak claimed that mantle for the Tories.

Hundreds of firms from around the country will attend the Labour conference’s Small Business Sunday.

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds will tell them his party values small firms as “not just the lifeblood of our communities but essential to our economic success”.

He will say: “Listening to the voice of small business is integral if the next Labour Government is to succeed.

“That is why Labour will ensure small business is represented on the Industrial Strategy Council.

“With Labour, small businesses will get the firm economic foundation they need to thrive, with action to tackle late payments, business rates reform and make it easier for small businesses to win public contracts.”

Labour said its policies to support small firms including replacing business rates with a new system, action to tackle late payments and creating a level playing field for smaller firms to access public contracts.

Federation of Small Businesses policy chair Tina McKenzie said: “Labour is right to put small businesses at the heart of decision making – with small businesses and Government working hand in hand, we can ensure a prosperous future for the UK.

“Tackling late payment and business rates is exactly what small businesses are looking for – while opening up public procurement will see government itself benefit from the talents of all those working in small businesses across the country.”

At the Tory conference in Manchester, Mr Sunak used his keynote speech to claim his own background – and that of Margaret Thatcher – showed the Conservatives’ credentials on the issue.

“This Conservative Party, the party of the grocer’s daughter and the pharmacist’s son, will always be the party of enterprise, the party of small business,” Mr Sunak said.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has said her “number one focus” in government would be to unlock more affordable homes with a plan to get tough on developers.

She said the party is still “not taking anything for granted” despite its Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

Asked whether the result showed the Opposition had a win “in the bag” at the next general election, she told BBC Breakfast: “We’re certainly not taking anything for granted but it was a seismic result for Labour.”

She said the party had been “very bold” in its plans to deliver more homes ahead of a speech expected to focus heavily on housing at the Labour conference in Liverpool.

“It’s an absolute scandal that nearly £2 billion has been handed back to the Treasury when actually builders want to build, developers want to develop. So we’ve got to unlock that. Part of it is about having those local plans, and making sure we stick to that, and have that renewal we want on a national level.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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