Commons Chat We must band together to oppose austerity
The communities of West Dunbartonshire have a rich and vibrant history – of that there is no doubt – and, while we can be proud of our heritage, we must build upon it and look to the future and what we can do to improve our communities.
I am afraid that our progress will be hindered by the UK Government’s drive towards austerity, which impacts all aspects of our communities, particularly in West Dunbartonshire.
This agenda’s impact is complex and calls for all of us – not just one sector, but public, private and third – to work together as we seek to defend our communities from the worst aspects of these so-called reforms.
A key element will be to support local businesses who play a key role as part of the multi-faceted approach to tackling poverty. At the most basic level, businesses provide the jobs for people but, more than that, they are an integral part of our communities, sponsoring and promoting local events and giving real practical help to community groups. I have also seen the difference well-run local social enterprise companies can make in an area. With a notfor-profit, user-led approach employing local people and focused solely on improving local outcomes, they also are a vital part of the fabric of our communities.
As your Member of Parliament, part of my job is to promote the area as a place where people can do business and make sure that people looking to invest in the area find it easy to network with the key stakeholders in West Dunbartonshire, including the council, Business Gateway, chambers of commerce and the local third sector, to name but a few.
Just as important, I want to ensure that people already established in the area, with businesses and social enterprises large and small embedded in our communities, have the practical support they need to continue serving our communities. MPs, MSPs and councillors can help in a very practical way, making connections with public bodies and officials and representing local employers at every level of government, putting employer and employee concerns front and centre and raising issues on their behalf directly with the people who can help resolve them.
Creating and supporting continuing long-term employment is vital to this area’s economic recovery and the council, with cross-party support, recently launched the Working4Business website where local businesses or those looking to invest can easily find information and support.
Furthermore, the Scottish government has in place a number of measures to support employers and grow our economy, including business rates relief to help small companies and changes to procurement processes to help make it easier for larger employers to bid for public contracts.
Next year I have every confidence that the Dumbarton constituency will elect an SNP MSP to join Gil Paterson, MSP from Clydebank, and following that an SNP council in 2017. Then we will have the strongest possible team, speaking with one very loud and very clear voice for you.