To say this has been a busy couple of weeks would be an understatement! I am very much enjoying putting more flesh on the bones of Labour’s economic offer and building deeper relationships with businesses locally, nationally and internationally as we continue to affirm Labour’s status as a proudly pro-worker and proudly pro-business Party.

It was brilliant to welcome the boss to Manchester last week as Keir Starmer set out Labour’s 5 Missions for a Better Britain. These five ambitious drivers will supercharge a Labour government, and restore pride and purpose to our country. I was grateful to Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO of The Co-Operative Group, for hosting us in their landmark Angel Square HQ. On Monday we followed this with details of Labour’s economic mission; you can see Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves discuss this further here (and don’t forget to secure your ticket to see Rachel in Stalybridge here).

Labour wants the UK to be the country in the G7 with the highest sustained growth. Unfortunately we’re currently at the bottom. I visited Manchester’s Growth Company, an award-winning social enterprise with a mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives. The Growth Company’s role is to support businesses across Greater Manchester in all areas of specialist advice and business support. They are also the national coordinator for the national network of Growth Hubs for the Government. To succeed in our mission we need to build on good work like this and ensure it is available in all parts of the country.

Jobs in low carbon industries will be critical to us materializing this mission, so I was grateful to David A. Collard for finding time to meet to discuss Recharge Industries plans for British Volt so soon after their successful bid. The gigafactory site in Blyth will create thousands of good local jobs in Northumberland but will also be a vital first step to build the electric battery capacity we need here in the UK.

Other important engagement included meeting David Duffy, CEO of Virgin Money UK to discuss ways to bolster growth, productivity and global investment in the UK economy; launching The Food and Drink Federation’s new #PowersOurNation campaign, championing the role food and drink manufacturing plays in our economy; joining Hannah Gurga, Director General of the Association of British Insurers at their annual dinner, with a view to creating a fairer, more prosperous Britain with a world leading financial services sector; and a fantastic conversation with Paul Greenwood and Michael Foley from ExxonMobil discussing their low carbon projects in hydrogen, carbon capture and sustainable aviation fuel.

Yesterday I also joined German Ambassador Miguel Berger at his residence for a brilliant  discussion with German industry leaders. It was a great chance to talk about Labour’s ambitious growth mission and the opportunities we see for the future of the UK’s economy.

I also spoke out this week about the worryingly large jump in average late payments for small businesses in new Xero data. Not getting paid on time is one of the biggest challenges small businesses face. Labour backs small business and that’s why the next Labour government will legislate to tackle this late payments crisis. However, we can act faster if the Government back our plans and implement them now.

I also continue to put pressure on the Government for better support for the in-crisis steel sector.

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