Small businesses must be supported
Despite the awful weather, it was encouraging to see so many people brave the elements to make it out to their local shops for Small Business Saturday at the weekend.
I took the opportunity to start my own Christmas shopping.
I even bought a beautiful scarf for myself in Le Sorelle in Burnside, which I can’t wait to wear in Parliament.
If anyone is short of a secret Santa idea I’d suggest popping in and checking their range of local patter mugs, including the ‘Did ye, aye?’ and the ‘Burnside beauty’.
Round the corner in Sweet P there are some truly beautiful and very tasteful Christmas decorations that I genuinely haven’t seen elsewhere. If your house needs some extra festive cheer then I’d recommend a visit.
I sought refuge from the rain during my day of shopping and ended up in the Tea Bay on Cambuslang Main Street, run by local lady Angeline.
This is a prime example of why we should support local business. Whilst larger businesses make charitable donations, smaller local businesses truly understand local issues and what it takes to regenerate an area.
Angeline donates leftover produce at the end of the day to local homeless people and in the new year intends to start holding informal classes in the shop to help teach people vital budgeting skills.
It was a pleasure to stop by the Tea Bay for a coffee and to have a chat about local issues.
I know that sounds like a bit of a politician cliche but it really does enable me to be so much more effective at doing the job I’ve been elected to do.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the day is much more than a photo opportunity or publicity stunt.
It’s about reconnecting with traders and realising how you can make a difference to your local economy.
Last year £504 million was spent in small businesses across the UK on the day. It’s estimated that for every £1 spent locally, 50p goes back into the community, compared to 5p when shopping at a large multinational.
I’m not advocating that we all turn our backs on big business but even small changes in shopping habits can make a huge collective difference.
Last Wednesday I popped out of the debate on Syrian air strikes for a little while to take part in a debate on benefit sanctions in Westminster Hall.
The current regime is strictly and rigidly enforced by the current Tory government and many people are falling foul through no fault of their own.
There needs to be a serious reassessment of the current system, including how hardship payments operate.
At the minute people cannot even apply for hardship until two weeks into the sanction.
This is a system totally lacking in any form of compassion and leading people to destitution.
I’m proud to back my colleague Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh’s private member’s bill, which would see an automatic entitlement to hardship for those sanctioned.
In this day and age, though, it really shouldn’t be needed.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy
Visit Margaret Ferrier with Angeline and Lucy at the Tea Bay