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With Keir Starmer and the Labour Party looking to reach out to the business community we invited Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East, to our offices to discuss promoting Welsh business and working more closely with the business community to address the challenges and opportunities in the region. 

Q: What are the key priorities for the Labour Party at the moment?

The key for the Labour party is developing and prioritising policies that will boost the economy, create jobs, support businesses, and help to reverse the cost-of-living crisis that is impacting so many across the country.

Q: What are you and the Labour Party doing to attract, support and work more closely with Welsh SMEs?

The Labour Party believes that small and medium enterprises businesses are the backbone of our country. I work closely with and endorse SME4Labour who seek to strengthen the relationship between the Party and those who run and work for small and medium businesses.  Ultimately, these businesses need and deserve greater support and respect than they have been given by the present Government and recognition for the economic contribution they make to our cities and our communities.  We want to be a broad church party and encourage more communication and engagement with the business community.  I get fantastic support from a number of business owners and leaders within the region on a range of campaign issues, we need to work with business to solve the many challenges our communities face.

Q: What do you see as the main challenges facing the economy in Swansea and Local/Welsh-owned businesses and how do you see these being addressed?

Obviously, the cost-of-living crisis means much less disposable income, if any, for my constituents.  Food prices, energy costs and fuel bills are all increasing at an alarming rate and much more needs to be done by Central Government to address this.

And businesses across Swansea East are also feeling the impact, facing the struggle to offer competitive pricing when business costs are continuing to rise.   I am aware that the Welsh Government recently announced a new loan scheme to help businesses in Wales become more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.  I really hope that local businesses will benefit from this new £10 million Green Business Loan Scheme.

Q: Where do you see the main opportunities for Welsh businesses?

Regeneration around Swansea and the move towards renewable energy represent major opportunities to encourage businesses to invest in the region.  The Labour party is committing to achieving 100% renewable power for the UK by 2030, this should include significant investment in both energy production and the supporting industries in Wales.  What we must do is make sure that smaller local businesses can benefit from these investments.

Q: What other issues as Swansea’s MP are you focussed on at the moment?

The menopause and getting support for women experiencing symptoms is my current campaign and it has gained widespread support across Parliament and beyond.

Another focus of mine is eliminating food poverty and holiday hunger through my ‘Everyone Deserves….’campaign. This Easter the campaign will be providing 250 seasonal food hampers to families across the constituency who might otherwise go without, and chocolate eggs to various community groups for children across my constituency.

I’d love for Swansea to become a world leader for menopause awareness, and I regularly go out to businesses across the city and the surrounding area to talk about how we help women in work. Simple adjustments don’t just help women feel valued and respected, but they also help businesses retain loyal and experienced staff.

Wouldn’t it be a fantastic accolade for our city.

Q: How do you see the relationship between the different levels of government in Westminster, Cardiff and Swansea?

I‘m immensely proud to represent Welsh Labour and of the successes that our Party have achieved in Government in Wales.  The country needs a Labour led Westminster working with a Labour led Senedd, and indeed, for my constituents, a Labour led Council in Swansea.   Labour led governments in Westminster and Cardiff will, I hope, enable Wales to become a proving ground for innovative policies and help us create a prosperous, modern democratic and community led society.