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Labour Pledge To Boost Ethnic Minority Business To End Major Race Disparities

Shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds has pledged to support small and medium-size businesses run by ethnic minorities in the UK. (Alamy)

2 min read

Labour MP Anneliese Dodds, shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, has warned of major disparities among small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that are “leaving much-needed extra economic growth on the table”.

New analysis by the Labour party, seen by PoliticsHome, shows that just 6.1 per cent of UK SMEs were led by a majority of people from a Black, Asian, mixed or other ethnic group in 2021, despite this group making up 18.3 per cent of the population.

The party highlight that the number has grown by 0.8 per cent since 2015, meaning at the current rate, UK SME employers won't reflect the percentage of ethnic minorities in the population until 2113. 

Labour said their plans, such as using the British Business Bank and opening access to investors and venture capital firms, which the party say is key for ethnic minority entrepreneurs due to a historic lack of access, would help support their aims. 

The party also said its Start-Up, Scale Up review for new businesses has also been tasked with looking at tackling disparities for ethnic minorities. 

The pledges are part of a major package of business reforms by Labour, with policies incuding scrapping business rates and replacing them with an alternative system which the party say will aid their aim of tackling disparities. 

Dodds said Labour's new focus on businesses run by ethnic minorities was part of the party's bid to mark the 75th Windrush Day. 

The Windrush generation arrived to the UK from the Caribbean from the late 1940s to the early 1970s, with many working in key sectors like the National Health Service (NHS) as the UK recovered from the war. 

“75 years after the arrival of the Windrush, Black, Asian and ethnic minority people still don't have enough of a place at the table when it comes to business," said Dodds. 

“The UK is bristling with talent and creativity. Nowhere is that more evident than in our small and medium-sized businesses.  

“But the Conservatives are completely asleep at the wheel at supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic entrepreneurs and SMEs and this is leaving much-needed economic growth on the table.  

“Labour will make Britain a place where businesses can flourish and anyone can succeed, not held back by their background or where they have come from.”  

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSS) estimates that ethnic minority-led SMEs add £25bn to the economy.

A government spokesperson said: “Ethnic minority led businesses make a rich contribution to the UK’s entrepreneurial landscape and the Government is committed to helping them overcome any barriers they may face.

“We provide a range of support to all businesses, including the Start Up Loans programme, where 20 per cent of loans issued have gone to those from a Black, Asian and minority background.”

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