Liberal Democrats are supporting Community Banking in order to break up the power of the big banks and to support local investment and lending in rural areas.
“Many farmers struggle to survive because of changes in pricing and unfair competition. It can be a struggle to live off the land, but many new and innovative small businesses are trying to do so. As MP for West Dorset I would really want to strengthen their hand. It’s about developing skills and making financial support available,” says prospective MP Ros Kayes. “When I obtained the funding for the Skills for Self Reliance project teaching coppicing, permaculture, renewable energy systems and other green skills across West Dorset it really made me see the value of working with landowners and young people to support them in developing their skills.”
Ros recently visited a family run business which has allowed the younger generation a chance to settle and put down roots. Tom Summers who runs Bellair Haye Farm breeding organic special breed pigs, converted his family’s redundant four acres into a thriving small business. Tom says, “in the 1960’s my grandparents bought four acres in Dorset, made a living and supported their family through market gardening. During the rise of the supermarket in the 1980’s and 90’s these four acres became unviable and the family dispersed into other nonagricultural jobs. For the period that followed, the land was rented out and I migrated to London to work in marketing.”
When Tom’s family aunt decided to open a farm shop he knew this was his ticket back into country life and a farming career. Tom’s Gloucester Old Spots and other rare breed pigs organically reared fetch a premium because of their healthy lifestyle and the quality meat is sold in a variety of outlets including the farm shop. “This is the kind of new land based business I want to see more of,” says Ros. “What Tom has done here is amazing. It’s vital to create more jobs for our young people here in West Dorset – so many of them have to go away to find work. I want to see more support in the form of advice, community loans and grant funding to help small family-run businesses”.
Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, says “Increasing the range of bank lending options will be a real help to small business. It is vital to our economy that we provide all the assistance we can to small enterprises and startups. Encouraging new “challengers” to the established big banks helps grow our economy by supporting new businesses across the nation.” “That’s just the ticket for us in rural West Dorset” says Ros.