Hello again and welcome to August’s Business Bulletin from City Hall. In the past month, we’ve seen the publication of the Government’s latest White Paper on Brexit. While it’s encouraging that the Government has finally acknowledged the need to maintain frictionless trade in goods with the EU post-Brexit, the proposals appear to be complex, untested and needlessly expensive for our businesses.
I’m even more worried that the Government’s approach fails to meet the needs of our service sectors. The UK has a large trade deficit with the EU in goods. In contrast, we have a £28bn surplus in services. Yet the Government is putting this dominance at risk.
The new barriers to trade in services that would be created under current plans would damage the ability of our world-leading financial, professional, creative and tech services to do business across the EU.
Cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt are already working hard to benefit from a mistake that could see businesses forced to move tens of thousands of jobs – and potentially hundreds of millions of pounds of investment – out of London and the rest of the UK. Even worse, there is now a risk that Britain could crash out of the EU with no deal at all. This nightmare scenario could lead to a lost decade of growth, and nearly 90,000 fewer jobs for Londoners.
It is vital London’s businesses are properly prepared for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Any businesses that export goods and services to the EU will be directly affected by changes to things like customs duties, regulations, VAT and logistics. We at City Hall are stepping up our own preparedness work, and the Mayor will be raising the question of how the Government plans to support businesses in their preparations, with the new Secretary of State for Leaving the EU, Dominic Raab MP.
Deputy Mayor for Business
FSB Members Lunch
I recently spoke at a Federation of Small Businesses members lunch, during which I met with London winners of the FSB national awards. I reiterated SMEs importance to London’s economy and reassured the audience that London will remain the best place to start and grow a business. I also had the chance to share some of the work the Mayor and I are doing to help businesses in the capital, such as the various business support services available through London’s Growth Hub, and the Mayor’s International Business Programme, as well as the forthcoming Good Work Standard.
Civic Innovation Challenge
Last month, the Civic Innovation Challenge attracted applications from over 100 small businesses with fresh ideas to challenge some of London’s most pressing problems. Successful applicants will be announced soon.
GOOD GROWTH FUND
There were over 160 applications to round 2 of the Good Growth Fund (GGF2) which closed in July. We will invite successful stage 1 applicants to submit full applications in September and final decisions will be announced in January 2019. GGF2 offers a further £20m funding to support innovative projects that seek to empower people, make better places and boost prosperity.
The London Growth Hub, in partnership with small business support network Enterprise Nation, is delivering its new business support programme, Meet the Buyer. The purpose of the programme is to help small companies access buyers from street markets, through to major multinationals, with a view to testing trading and securing new sales deals. These free events are due to kick off in October and will include support on how to pitch effectively and manage an on-going contract. They will be sector-specific with events for food & drink producers, fashion, beauty, digital, and cleantech entrepreneurs.
The full programme is expected to include buyers from major high street retailers plus procurement officers from Government departments. Evidence suggests accessing pitching sessions like these can be transformational for smaller firms, not only increasing the bottom line, but also awareness of products or services.
PROPERTY ADVICE SERVICE: EXTEND YOUR OFFER
The London Growth Hub is continuing to offer free one-to-one mentoring sessions from property experts. So, if you’re a small business wanting to renegotiate a lease, visit the Growth Hub for help.
CROWDFUND LONDON ADVICE WORKSHOP, 3 AUGUST