Palace of Westminster, London. Photo: DAVID ILIFF/ commons.wikimedia
Sophia Taha

Election 2015: Merseyside businesses give their opinions

Each week Bdaily will ask businesses from a different area of the North West for their opinions and hopes from the upcoming election and present their views in a weekly roundup.

This week it is the turn of businesses in Merseyside to tell Bdaily their opinions.

Brodex

Geoff Shalders, MD of Formby based Brodex said: “Regardless of who is in power after the election, government funding to support small businesses delivering training to their workforces should be a priority.

“We invest heavily in keeping our workforce up to date with the latest skills, otherwise we would struggle to not only operate, but to also give our business customers the reassurance that we meet all legislative requirements.

“This is a significant undertaking though, and one that many small businesses struggle to manage. Merseyside, in particular has many skilled trades and providing training incentives and support at a government level will help our region to flourish, as well as secure a skilled local workforce for the future.”

SPARK Impact

SPARK Impact manages the North West Fund for Biomedical, a £30m fund providing finance from £50,000 to £1.5m to businesses to support a broad range of needs from start-up and early stage development through to expansion plans for trading businesses.

The company, which has bases at Liverpool Science Park and the BioHub at Alderley Park, has invested more than £25m into pioneering start-ups with business ideas in the healthcare sector. Speaking about what he would like to see in the upcoming election, investment director Dr Andy Round said: “We need to ensure that if we leave Europe, the UK government will fill the hole left by ERDF-type programmes which are essential for early stage innovation.

“I would also call for continued support for the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Entrepreneurs’ tax relief for angel investors. I think there should also be further support for the British Business Bank and their Enterprise Capital Funds and Angel CoFund.”

The Equfund Group

The Equfund Group is based in the Borough of Wirral.

Andrew Mahon, Director, The Equfund Group said: “We have a housing crisis in the UK and, for over 40 years, consecutive Governments’ have done little to address it.

“We are currently in the middle of one of the most closely fought election campaigns in recent political history with each of the parties setting out their proposals on how to address Britain’s housing crisis.

“But do the proposals go far enough to tackle the problem? We need a Government that will offer a clear, achievable and disciplined long-term vision on creating affordable housing.

“The UK needs an estimated 250,000 new houses every year (source: Shelter) to meet demand yet, according to the governments own figures, we have badly failed to meet this target.

“In 2013-14 we built just 140,000 new homes, a small improvement on the year before it. At a time that demand for housing is at its highest ever level, this constraint in housing supply has led to an acute shortage of affordable homes.

“Housing waiting lists are now close to bursting point. There are currently more than 1.8 million households on housing waiting lists (source: Shelter). There are also over 600,000 homes in England which are currently standing empty (source: The Empty Homes Agency). This is obviously wasteful in the extreme.

“Bringing back into use empty properties offers a quick and cost effective solution. There’s seldom need for lengthy planning applications, and the process is often more environmentally sensitive than new build due to the infrastructure (roads, drainage etc) already being present. What’s more, refurbishing current stock helps keep the historical character of neighbourhoods.

“Surely turning vacant houses into valued homes should be a priority? Yet you will not see a single mention of it in any one of the major parties manifestos despite the fact that 78% of people surveyed think that the government should place a higher priority on tackling empty homes (source: Halifax). Further, local authorities still own the largest consignment of empty properties; we therefore need robust action in putting them back into use. Powers designed to help local authorities bring empty homes back into use were used just 17 times in 2014 (Source: Guardian).

“We believe that unless there are legitimate practical reasons for a property not being returned to use - for example, structural issues such as subsidence - every effort should be made by the next Government to bring family homes back into use. Red tape should be cut, and any organisations holding these properties should be made to release them. We would like to see an accelerated compulsory purchase powers introduced and a ‘Use it or lose it’ policy adopted to prevent the hoarding of empty properties.

“We would like to see tax breaks made available to people or organisations which bring back empty properties and make them available at affordable rents.

“We have proven it can be done. Now it’s time for the political parties to take action.”

Next week Bdaily will look for opinions and comments from businesses in Cumbria. Are you a local business? Get in contact and tell us your opinions, comments, or wish lists for the 2015 election.

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