John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, accompanied by Diane Abbott, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, visited local businesses in Hendon, north London, as part of an effort to understand the issues faced by diverse communities.
Businesses in the area have been struggling with the crisis faced on the British high streets, with some being forced to close.
McDonell and Abbott visited Bruce’s Barbers where a round table discussion explored such as inequality and economic empowerment.
The discussion was attended by black and minority ethnic (BAME) business leaders.
Among those who attended wereEmeka Ezeagbor, who worked in Hendon for 20 years and now currently runs Bruce’s Barbershop; Liz Ige, a cultural strategist and a life coach who left the financial sector to pursue her business to promote cultural inclusion; Royden Greaves from Cornerstone UK, and Raphael Sofoluke, founder of the UK Black Business Show that encourages black entrepreneurship.
Speaking during the visit McDonnell said: “Economic inequality and empowerment are still big issues holding back our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
“The struggles of BAME communities continue, and they still endure discrimination, whether it’s through access to loans to help their businesses grow or discriminatory pay gaps that unfairly offer less recompense because of their background.”
He continued: “Up and down the country, the effects of austerity have been devastating and the impact on businesses heavy, with many having to shut down. Austerity has also been particularly hard-hitting for BAME communities who already are struggling with inequality.
“Labour will reduce inequality and undo the damage done by austerity. It’s time for real change so that no one is held back and no community is left behind.”
Emeka Ezeagbor, who hosted the visit at Bruce’s Barbershop, said: “Politicians connecting with local communities is important. I was thoroughly impressed by John’s plans for the country and even for small businesses like mine, who are struggling from high rent and ever-increasing business rates.
“Customers have slowly been dropping over the years with less and less footfall every other day. I hope a Labour government will rescue the crisis faced by our high street and stop it from failing.
“Also supporting Black and Asian business owners like me, who have faced many uphill battles will really unite us together.