Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged to help small businesses during a visit to Lancashire.
The Labour leader met supporters at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool .
I think small businesses are the lifeblood of a successful economy and Blackpool relies on its small businesses.
And he said helping small businesses would be the catalyst for turning things round for struggling Lancashire families.
He said his party’s policies – cutting business rates for small business, tackling the way they are treated by the banks and helping them cut their energy costs – was the key to creating a stronger economy.
Mr Miliband said dealing with the “epidemic” of zero hours contracts, supporting more apprenticeships and raising the minimum wage would help residents on low incomes.
And he agreed to consider appointing a dedicated tourism minister if he is elected Prime Minister in May.
He said: “I think small businesses are the lifeblood of a successful economy and Blackpool relies on its small businesses.
“So we are going to cut business rates for small businesses, because lots of them are operating on the margins and we want to make life easier for them.”
He said he would retain Blackpool Airport’s status as an enterprise zone – announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Budget last month. And he added: “But I think more needs to be done to help Blackpool around how we get decent apprenticeships, how you help small and medium sized businesses and how you have an industrial policy that helps places like Blackpool to succeed.”
Mr Miliband refused to be drawn on whether he thought fracking would create jobs in the county, but also did not rule out a Labour government supporting the controversial drilling for shale gas.
He said: “We put forward in the House of Commons 13 conditions before fracking could go ahead. The government initially accepted them and then rejected them.
“We are not going to allow fracking to go ahead without those conditions being met. It is incredibly important that if fracking does go ahead, it is in the right way and done by being absolutely clear about the environmental conditions being met.”