Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, blogs about how Islington Labour is supporting SMEs.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are the lifeblood of Islington’s diverse highstreets. Our borough is home to over 33,000 SMEs and the hard-working people behind them make a vital contribution to our local economy and communities. It is only right that this Labour-run Council protects and boosts them.
Apart from our highstreets, Islington’s economy is dominated by the SME sector. Last year the Council commissioned an Employment Land study which highlighted the dominance of SMEs in the local economy. So speaking up and supporting this sector is key to the economic success of Islington.
Last year, we successfully secured Greater London Authority (GLA) funding to support small businesses in our town centres to improve shop fronts and provide them with visual merchandising workshops. We are continuing to look at ways we can strengthen and develop our high streets and town centres.
The Tories claim to be the Party of small businesses but many business owners in Islington feel otherwise. Islington businesses will see their rateable values increase by 45 per cent -; the third highest rise in England -; under the Tories’ business rates rise. This puts more pressure on SMEs to relocate or close, which would damage the diverse and independent nature of our business communities.
It is essential that we protect our local businesses, which is why last month I handed in a 13,600-strong petition to the Treasury, alongside Islington business representatives. The Government has since announced some small concessions but it is not enough. We will continue to push the Government to bring forward genuine support for local businesses and offer support to those affected by the business rates hike.
This week, Jeremy Corbyn MP set out plans for how a Labour Government would support SMEs. One of these measures was tackling late payment from large companies, which is a problem many Islington SMEs will be all too familiar with.
Over 15,000 SMEs in the borough are owed upwards of £144 million in late payments. This can affect their ability to pay staff on time and pay the bills. Nearly 3,000 SME directors in Islington have sacrificed their own salary because of late payments.
We are determined to support Islington’s SMEs so that our high streets remain diverse and successful. From advice on starting your own business to support on business rates, you can find out more about the Council’s services for businesses here.
Pictured – Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development