Who should London entrepreneurs vote for?
Is it possible that the Mayor of London could help the cause of small businesses and entrepreneurs? Some of the mayoral candidates hoping to be elected on 3rd May seem to think so, based upon the pledges they make in their manifestos. So, how do their various manifesto promises compare?
Boris Johnson (of the Conservative Party) lists “Growing the London Economy” as one of his pledges. He insists that London has already succeeded in its relative resilience against the economic downturn. He suggests that his priority is to boost the economic well-being of the city – by stating his intent to continue his current endeavours to direct funds and tax money according to Londoners’ wishes; to secure record funding from No. 10; and not to waste money on bureaucracy at City Hall. Johnson appears to suggest that his aim is to boost the general economic well-being of the city rather than directly helping businesses within it.
Ken Livingstone (of the Labour Party) makes no direct promises in relation to the economy, nor to assisting small businesses. Rather, his emphasis is on increasing funds for education, in order to increase young people’s prospects of employment. He pledges a commitment to “restoring a London-wide Educational Maintenance Allowance of up to £30 per week in term by bringing together existing funds in colleges, universities, and local authorities.”
Brian Paddick (of the London Liberal Democrats) states, “We will establish a London Small Business Fund. We will work with socially responsible banks, so all viable small enterprises get the finance they need with mentoring support and advice too.” This promise comes under the heading of his ambitiously entitled “Jobs and Opportunities for All” pledge, which is mainly focused on improving employment prospects for youths. He promises a “London Youth Contract” to assist Londoners up to the age of 25 to attain work experience leading to a job; a new “Adult Skills” initiative; a fund to facilitate youth opportunities in needy areas gained via a voluntary £1 a night luxury hotel bedroom levy; the creation of “Youth Hubs” to provide advice, support and socialising opportunities for young people; and an enhanced careers advice service in schools.
Jenny Jones (of the Green Party) is the only candidate who explicitly pledges to help the plight of small businesses as “an absolute priority for City Hall”, as set out in her 10-point “Small Business Manifesto”. She pledges to:
- Support a renaissance of micro, small and medium-sized businesses
- Use the Greater London Authority budget to support small businesses
- Protect and re-develop the traditional “high street”
- Prevent chain stores taking over independent shops
- Encourage Londoners to “buy local”
- Ensure public sector contracts go to small businesses
- Maintain the CompeteFor system
- Ensure small and local businesses aren’t disadvantaged by congestion and parking
- Only work with banks that lend to small business
- Increase small business representation in the community
Carlos Cortiglia (of the British National Party) does not appear to have a website stating his manifesto for London Mayor. A Uraguayan national who has been living in the UK since 1989, he says he is “astonished” by the “hostility shown by many of the migrants towards the British and their way of life”, and emphasises, “I want to help preserve the freedoms, values and traditions that help make this a great country to live in.” He appears to make no promises in relation to boosting London’s economy or helping small businesses.
Lawrence James Webb (of Fresh Choice of London) is affiliated with the UK Independence Party. Of his various manifesto pledges, those of relevance to small businesses include: cutting rates for “local businesses employing local people”; “saying ‘No’ to open-door immigration” in order to “create more jobs for Londoners”; and fighting any “EU red tape strangling London businesses”.
Siobhan Benita talks at length of her intentions to “create jobs and boost economic growth” in her Manifesto. With regards London’s budget she promises to establish an “Independent Office for Budget Responsibility”. For jobseekers she proposes free travel, and reduced fares for low earners. For youths she pledges her commitment to working “with councils and businesses to ensure apprenticeships effectively deliver real employment and career prospects”, and working “with businesses, schools and colleges to improve pre-apprenticeship training”. Of greater interest to Off To See My Lawyer clients, she states that she “will work with landlords to make better use of empty commercial property, including temporary use for community projects and for entrepreneurs to trial their ideas, negotiating Business Rate discounts and exemptions for innovative new businesses… My initial priorities will be the support of the creative industries and the life sciences sector.”