The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has unveiled a range of new, free-to-access support options for London’s million-plus small businesses as they prepare for Brexit. Nine new London Growth Hub centres across the city will offer face-to-face advice and resources, and a series of events taking place throughout October will help small business leaders take the basic steps they need to prepare for the impact of Brexit on areas such as import and export arrangements, EU staff, and potential changes to contracts and insurance.
Speaking to an audience representing more than 150 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at City Hall Sadiq urged them to take advantage of the help and guidance available from the London Growth Hub.
Launched in 2017 and delivered by LEAP, London’s local enterprise partnership, the Hub brings together the capital’s vast business support offer into a single online resource – and is now being expanded to offer in-person support as well.
When he took office, Sadiq pledged to be the most pro-business Mayor that London has ever had, and this work responds to widespread concerns about how prepared SMEs are for leaving the European Union as they approach the October 31 deadline.
According to a recent survey by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), only nine percent of London business leaders polled say their business is prepared for a no-deal Brexit and nearly a fifth say they require support in planning for one.
From November 1, the new London Growth Hub service will start to operate across four sites:
- Sussex Innovation Centre (Croydon);
- Woolwich Library (Greenwich);
- Huddle (Hammersmith and Fulham);
- 639 Community Enterprise Hub (Haringey); and
- Tintagel House (Lambeth).
Further support will be available from four satellite locations at:
- Wood Green Library (Haringey);
- Civic Centre (Harrow);
- 3 Space International Brixton (Lambeth); and
- Ilford Library (Redbridge).
The Mayor made the announcement as his London Growth Hub business roadshow made its fifth and final stop at City Hall, having engaged with thousands of entrepreneurs and business owners across the capital at events in Havering, Richmond, Barnet and Greenwich over the last few weeks.
The roadshows form part of the Mayor’s London is Open campaign. Launched in the aftermath of the EU referendum, the campaign promotes the capital’s diversity and demonstrates that, despite the challenges of Brexit, the capital remains the best place to start and grow a business.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Brexit is a disaster for London and one of the biggest risks of a hard or no-deal Brexit is that the majority of small businesses remain unprepared.
“The Government has failed to provide any kind of certainty or the information and resources that entrepreneurs and businesses need. That’s why I’m stepping up the advice and support available from City Hall during this important period.
“The London Growth Hub is a vital resource for SMEs – and whether you need help with Brexit preparation, or other challenges facing your business, I urge all of London’s entrepreneurs to make use of the brilliant new business advice centres we are establishing across the city.”
Director of Policy and Public Affairs at London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sean McKee, said: “Having provided Brexit advisory services to our membership for some time now, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry is acutely aware that there is a real mixed picture of Brexit preparations in the capital. Some businesses are prepared, some are preparing, others feel they can’t prepare, and some feel they don’t need to prepare.
“Our most recent research highlighted that nearly a fifth of London businesses polled said they needed support in order to be able to plan. This is why we welcome the support announced by the Mayor, which adds to the work that business organisations in London are doing to ensure the impact of Brexit is mitigated as best possible.”
London Policy Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, Sue Terpilowski OBE, said: “Ongoing uncertainty is to blame for Brexit preparations hitting the skids with the picture still not clear as to how the UK will leave the EU on 31 October. Until we get clarity, small firms in London must prepare for the cliff edge where possible, which is why we welcome the new, free business support being provided by the Mayor through the London Growth Hub.
“Amongst those FSB members that believe a no-deal scenario on 31 October will negatively impact them, nearly two thirds don’t think they are able to plan. Therefore, all forms of business support such as the package being announced today are critical to navigate the uncharted and turbulent waters of a potential no-deal Brexit.”
Among the businesses which have benefitted from the events and support offered through the London Growth Hub ahead of Brexit are public affairs consultancy Landmark, and planning and construction software provider Kreo.
Associate Director at Landmark, Kevin Doran, said: “Landmark Public Affairs is pleased to be supporting this very important initiative. It is critical that small and medium-sized enterprises in London prepare for a completely new trading relationship with the European Union. There will be a host of new things for SMEs to consider and not all of them are immediately obvious.
“While it may not be possible to be completely ready, there are certain things you can do to prepare for Brexit, whether we leave with or without a deal. These workshops help participants identify issues that they can influence or prepare for, which, in turn, will help prevent any damage to their ongoing relationship with customers.”
Head of People at Kreo, Julia Fourey-Jones, said: “We are a technology start-up with eight employees based in London, some of whom are non-UK EU nationals. It has become increasingly pressing to get answers on how the various Brexit scenarios might impact our company and recently I attended a workshop organised by London Growth Hub on Brexit readiness for Small to Medium Enterprises.
“The event was an intense day of presentations and discussions, and in the end it was clear that there would be a number of considerations for us under any scenario, with no-deal being the most impactful.”