Margot Parker, UKIP MEP for the East Midlands and UKIP’s spokesman for small businesses, responded to Ed Miliband’s speech today.
Mrs Parker said “He obviously really has no clue as to the challenges that smaller businesses face on a day to day basis. He is reaching for sticking-plaster solutions without having the courage to address some of the core issues that need to be resolved to strengthen our economy and secure our recovery from the mess that the last Labour government left.
"There are no quick fixes here, and superficial cosmetic providing a small number of apprenticeships is not the way to go. We need a committed aspiration to reform our education system to provide school-leavers with the skills that work demands, and that includes more vocational training and multi-year apprenticeships starting at a younger age.
"This would require close cooperation between employers and the educational system, perhaps including employers having input on the curriculum.
"The same goes for university – we need to make sure that graduates coming out of university have degrees that will help them find a job, which is why UKIP supports funding those taking degrees in science, engineering, medical and technical subjects.
"There are also some very simple things that government can do immediately to give smaller businesses a helping hand. Pressuring councils to lower business rates and make it easier to park on our high streets and town centres. Encouraging easier terms of lending from banks, and streamlining access to alternative sources of funding such as Business Angels and crowd-funding.
"A lighter touch towards small business by HMRC with strengthened mechanisms of appeal available to them would also be useful.
"And of course, we need to help our businesses become more competitive by rationalising tax, getting rid of EU imposed over-regulation and removing green levies from the cost of energy. This will help our smaller businesses grow, increase British manufacturing and diversify our economy.
"None of this is complicated, but once again Ed Miliband and Labour have shown themselves to be the representatives of big business and superficial headline-grabbers, lacking the courage and conviction to push for real change that will help those who are the backbone of our economy – the smaller businesses."