Posted: Thu 19th Nov 2015
Liberals and business owners are one in the same thing, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said as he outlined his party's policies for the economy and enterprise.
Delivering his first speech on the economy since taking over at the top of the Liberal Democrats, Farron claimed that supporting entrepreneurs is natural for his party.
"What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?," he said. "It means believing that no-one owes us a living, but nor should government get in the way of us making a living for ourselves. Like liberals.
"It means, given the opportunity, believing we can make a difference through our own individual talents and vision. Like liberals.
"So, whether they know it or not enterprising people, entrepreneurs are liberals; creative and innovative, wanting to be their own bosses, wanting to create opportunities for others. Liberal. Entrepreneur. They are almost interchangeable words."
In a wide ranging speech, the MP outlined support measures for what he described as 'small for good', business owners who are happy being small and don't want to grow, and 'small for now', founders who are pushing for growth.
'Small for good' firms, he said, are "the absolute backbone of our communities". To support them the Liberal Democrats would give "real teeth" to the government's Small Business Commissioner, which aims to tackle late payment from big companies to their small suppliers, such as the power to fine large firms.
Farron also pledged to "press the government to renew the review of business rates" which he said "George Osborne has quietly dropped" after former Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander "initiated" it.
Finally, the party leader said he will champion local banking.
On supporting growth companies, Farron said he will help British investors in British companies more easily move their money around, and encourage large companies to act as venture capital investors.
He also said he look at replicating the success surrounding Stanford University in encouraging venture capitalists to set up shop at universities, and encourage diversity within the financial industry by further supporting peer-to-peer lenders, and other alternative finance providers.
"I say 'let the Tories be the Party of huge complacent corporations'", Farron added. "The Liberal Democrats will be the party of small business, the party of wealth creators, the insurgents, the entrepreneurs."