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Losses mount for ‘Little Punjab’ in Britain

London : Small businesses in the British parliamentary constituency of Ealing Southall, dominated by people of Punjabi origin, are owed tens of millions of pounds by bigger corporate entities. Nearly 100 enterprises have closed down in the past year, causing misery to the migrants from India. Chandni Chowk, a well-known and well-entrenched food outlet, recently closed down. How Punjabi the London suburb is can be gauged from the home page headings of the Visit Southall website. They are in Gurmukhi and Urdu in addition to English. Scrolling down one comes across a sentence that summarises what the place is all about: “Southall Broadway (the main thoroughfare) is like ‘Little India’ as you don’t need to speak English to fully enjoy the experience.”But Ealing Southall is not merely about the Broadway. Sophisticated factories in the area, among them ones established by the late Lord Gulam Noon, who was originally from Mumbai, supply chilled Indian foods to multi-million pound supermarket chains. Nationwide in Britain, small and medium-sized businesses are suffering from late payments to the tune of a staggering £26.3 billion. Out of this, an estimated 4,793 companies in Ealing Southall are owed over £44 million (Rs 360 crore). Virendra Sharma, the Opposition Labour Party MP for the constituency, said: “Businesses right here in Ealing Southall are failing each year because larger clients just don’t pay them what they owe.”
He added: “Late payments hurt every local economy across the country. Those appalling national figures mean that our small businesses, our local entrepreneurs — the lifeblood of Ealing Southall — are struggling.”

About Jatin Kamboj