“I’m determined to be the most pro-business Mayor of London yet. I’ll make engagement with industry – from small independents and start-ups to global corporations – a key part of decision making at City Hall.” Sadiq Khan, April 2016
He’s ‘talked the talk’, now what everyone wants to know is whether Sadiq Khan, the new mayor of London can actually ‘walk the walk’ on his promise to be “the most pro-business Mayor London has ever had.”
During the campaign, his pledges focussed on supporting small businesses and flexible office space, as well as promoting London’s tech scene and driving the sector to new heights. But now he needs to come up with some practical measures to make it all happen.
So what do we really want to see him achieve in his first 100 days? These are the top 7 areas I will hold him to account on.
Housing – Get a Strategy. The CBI has already called on the Mayor to sort out the housing crisis, and wants a strategy announced within these first crucial few days. Without this, there’s a real and present danger that the capital’s businesses will suffer, unable to get local staff and workers for mid-ranging jobs that are so vital for many – and especially small, independent – businesses to prosper. In short, without more homes for local residents to buy and rent, we’re all stuffed.
Tech – Start that Pipeline. Skills is another hot potato for the mayor – who pledged to put apprenticeships “at the heart of his agenda” as well as champion the tech industry. I applaud his commitments to create a tech talent pipeline, an open data strategy, improve broadband and even introduce a Chief Digital Officer and Skills for Londoners Taskforce but these positions need to have more than just a desk at city hall but real teeth and funding to help them have real impact.
Business Advisory Board – Get the right people on board. Let’s hope that this does actually get full representation from forward thinking experts in small business, entrepreneurs and female business leaders, not just politicos & cronies.
Small Business Premises – Change the Playing Field. I particularly like his pledge to take on councils & protect working spaces including ‘incubator’ and start-up premises threatened by property developers as well as promoting the creation of small business space within the London plan. It’s vital that there is enough affordable workspace in London to house our flourishing entrepreneurial community.
London Living Wage – What a relief! I agree with promoting the £10/hr London living wage but am equally pleased by the Mayor’s pledge for business rate relief on it. This is a welcome move that should help SMEs reduce the cost burden of rising salaries and ever increasing employer regulations.
Affordable Childcare – Payday for Childsplay This would obviously be a great boost to key workers but the proposed campaign for business rate relief for childcare providers would also be a welcome initiative that would benefit many (mainly female) solopreneurs.
Visa rules – Change that reg. For the many multi-cultural businesses in the city, this would be a great move allowing easier access to international talent and provide a more authentic product or service.
On the whole it would seem, that on paper at least, the new Mayor could be good for small independent business, but we need to keep the pressure on. Can he deliver on all 7 pledges within his first 100 days in office? We’ll have to wait and see.