Skills! Skills! Skills! is the rallying call by London’s small businesses ahead of Mayoral Election


With less than three months to go to Election Day, The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has delivered its key recommendations to the frontrunners to become Mayor of London and those aiming to sit on the London Assembly on 7 May.

The lobbying body is calling for a (match-funded) financial incentive of £3,000 for micro businesses in the capital looking to take on an apprentice, staggered from the start of the apprenticeship through to completion.

The federation has also called on the future Mayor to lobby to keep the talent needed to work in key sectors thereby working to influence the government to lower the ‘intended’ migrant threshold to £20,100 for skilled workers.

It wants leaders to devise a proactive marketing and outreach strategy via the London Growth Hub to target diverse business owner groups (most notably BAME, Disabled, LGBTQ+ and Women owned businesses).

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With cash flow and growth ambitions of critical importance to London business, nearly six in ten (57%) small businesses believe that the Mayor must use their office to deliver procurement contracts suitable for Micro and Small Businesses (MSBs).

The FSB is calling on the new Mayor to make the procurement process easier, and, champion best practice in procurement by meeting a target of 33& of all contracts to go to MSBs by 2024 through greater disaggregation of contracts.

Rowena Howie, London policy representative for the FSB, said: “The Mayor must enable micro and small businesses to address the challenges of tomorrow today. Now is the time to create the right infrastructure so that the skills deficit in London doesn’t increase.

“Now is the time to ensure London can continue to attract migrant skills to meet our service needs. Now is the time to help small firms engage the next generation of skilled workers through investing in apprenticeships.

“There needs to be a particular focus on improving digital skills for all Londoners but to really improve productivity and realise London’s potential there should be greater access to management and leadership training for small business.

“London is a great place to start a business but it needs to be a better place to grow a business. The capital should be seen as welcoming and progressive, with access for all but the Mayor also needs to ensure London really is a city of opportunity.

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Other key recommendations from the manifesto include:

  • Make ‘workplace wellbeing’ available to all. Ensure all small businesses across the London area can easily access no cost/low cost wellbeing solutions and strategies for them and their staff.
  • For the Mayor to write to all major landowners in the capital – who own over 100,000 square feet of commercial space – calling on them to support their tenants with a new supportive small business statement that will hold them to account.
  • Lay the groundwork to scrapping the Congestion Charge, LEZ and ULEZ and other charging mechanisms and replace with a fully consulted-on demand managed road pricing scheme which is dependent on usage of the roads, the time of journey and the environmental quality of the vehicle.

Ms Howie added: “It’s time to address the issue of big landlords squeezing smaller tenants. Without affordable commercial property our valuable small businesses will be forced to close or relocate elsewhere.”

“The Mayor should lead by example. Not enough public contracts go to local small businesses it’s time to level the playing field, ensuring it’s not just the bigger businesses who get access.

“We need a Mayor to champion small business by ending the late payment culture where large suppliers undermine small businesses by keeping them waiting more than 30 days for payment.”

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