Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna criticised the coalition's record on getting banks lending to businesses at a factory visit in Manchester yesterday.
In a visit to Manchester polythene manufacturer Duo UK as part of a wider fact finding mission, the shadow business secretary explored how companies are coping in the current economic conditions as well exploring how the rising cost of living is affecting employees.
Mr Umunna cited the company’s need to look to Italy to acquire funding for a new CNC machine as an example of the domestic constraints facing British businesses looking to expand.
“It says it all about the Tory-led government’s dire record on getting the banks lending to business that an expanding, successful company like Duo had to look overseas – and to a foreign government – to get the finance it needed,” he said.
“This also underlines the fact that Britain is the world’s only major economy without a state backed investment institution to help businesses – British business is having to compete with one hand tied behind its back.”
He added Labour wants to see the creation of a proper British Investment Bank with a network of regional banks to get finance going to business and spurring local growth.
But Mr Umunna reserved praise for Duo UK, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year with a £1.1m investment.
It manufactures packaging products for e-retail, retail, mail order and industrial brands, where its clients include ASOS, JD Sports and most recently, SportPursuit.
“Manufacturing is incredibly important to the health of the UK economy and I was impressed by the very obvious energy and commitment the Duo team has in driving their business forward.
“I saw an ambitious, family run entrepreneurial company, which is investing in its future, and creating secure, stable employment for the local community,” he said, adding Duo are an example of what Britain needs to aid an economic recovery.
Managing director David Brimelow said the visit of the shadow business secretary provided a good opportunity for his company to voice its concerns.
“During Chuka Umunna’s visit we were able to raise issues that affect many manufacturing businesses in the UK such as the cost of energy, skills shortage and the challenges we face in raising finance to invest further in our business.
“It was an open and candid conversation and, although it’s fair to say that at Duo we’ve never waited around for Government support, we will certainly be interested to see the direction Labour’s policy takes.”
A full interview with Chuka Umunna on Labour’s business strategy plans can be read here