The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a new support hub for struggling small businesses, as applications also open for a new £1m fund to help London’s firms survive the dual impacts of COVID-19 and Brexit.
Businesses in the capital are facing huge uncertainty, both from the consequences of COVID-19, and preparing for the possibility of the UK failing to secure a deal with the EU by January 2021. The London Business Hub will provide a range of free support and funding opportunities to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) of all sectors.
It includes an online portal (www.businesshub.london) to help London’s businesses to start, sustain and grow, and a programme to equip around 240 businesses in the capital with the leadership skills necessary to safeguard against future economic shocks. SMEs will get advice on business rates and landlord negotiations, and also how to navigate government support schemes and recover reduced revenue streams.
Through a partnership with the Business School (formerly Cass Business School) firms will receive expert support and can access one-on-one sessions of tailored advice with the Hub’s team of business advisers. Encouraging collaboration, a peer-to-peer network has also been set up, where business leaders can discuss, meet and tackle their challenges together.
Applications for £1m of new funding opened today to help SMEs build resilience for the uncertainty ahead. Funding of up to £30,000 will be rewarded to projects that develop innovative solutions to the environmental and economic challenges facing the London’s economy. This could include new ways of using data and technology to identify and address vulnerabilities in supply chains, local food or energy production.
The Mayor has written to the Prime Minister urging that if the latest round of Brexit talks ends in no significant progress being made, the Government must put the national interest first and seek an immediate extension to the trade negotiations of at least 12 months, allowing businesses to focus on the priorities of dealing with the virus, and protecting jobs.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The London Business Hub and this new fund will help our businesses tackle the dual challenges of COVID-19 and the risk of a no-deal Brexit. The coronavirus pandemic has hit London’s business community hard, with social distancing requirements and a reduction in footfall leaving many small and medium-sized companies struggling to survive. As many continue to worry about their cashflow and how they’re going to pay the bills, I want to do all I can from City Hall to provide the practical help and support London’s SMEs need to get through these difficult times.”
Rowena Howie, FSB London Policy Chair, said: “Small businesses need tangible and relevant help during these challenging times, so a move to a more targeted support service for London business owners is welcome. We are particularly keen for support to be given to those who have been more adversely affected through the COVID crisis. For those who have missed out on grants, loans and general business support – this service must offer a pathway to recovery.”
Entrepreneur and LEAP Business Member, Nita P.Woods said: “As a small business owner myself, I know how devastating the last six months have been and how terrifying the next 12 to 24 months seem. I know we simply can’t get through it without support at every level – from loyal customers and mega fans, to dear friends and peers who share the load. The role of public funding is to support small businesses who don’t otherwise have the resources or the capacity to work their way out of this situation alone. That’s why the LEAP Board is proud to fund and support the new London Business Hub programmes that help connect business owners together through peer networks, academic support and access to the information that will help them to not only survive, but also thrive over the coming years.”