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Skills! Skills! Skills! is the rallying call by London’s micro and small business community for this Mayoral Election

With less than three months to go to Election Day, The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has delivered its key recommendations to the frontrunners to become Mayor of London and those aiming to sit on the London Assembly on May 7.

This election is the chance for a Mayor to demonstrate that they recognise the cultural and economic contribution the 1.1 million small firms in the capital make to London, and, recognise the central part Micro and Small Businesses (MSBs) play in the future prosperity and wellbeing of London.

Investing in and accessing the right skills will benefit the competitiveness of small firms, and with the uncertainties surrounding migration, small businesses must be equipped to create further jobs in the capital. Nearly 8 in ten (77 per cent) of small businesses said that a financial incentive for taking on an apprentice would encourage them to take on an apprentice.

  • FSB is calling for a (match-funded) financial incentive of £3,000 for micro businesses in the capital looking to take on an Apprentice: staggered from the start of the Apprenticeship through to completion.
  • FSB also calls on the Mayor to lobby to keep the talent needed to work in key sectors thereby working to influence the Government to lower the ‘intended’ migrant threshold to £20,100 for skilled workers.
  • Devise a proactive marketing and outreach strategy via the London Growth Hub to target diverse business owner groups (most notably BAME, Disabled, LGBTQ+ and Women owned businesses). This will focus on supporting groups to access finance, procurement opportunities, appropriate skills and mentoring. The Mayor must commit an appropriate sized budget to deliver this.

With cash flow and growth ambitions of critical importance to London business, nearly six in ten (57 per cent) small businesses believe that the Mayor must use their office to deliver procurement contracts suitable for Micro and Small Businesses (MSBs).

Click here to read the manifesto

FSB is calling on the Mayor to make the procurement process easier, and, champion best practice in procurement by meeting a target of 33 per cent of all contracts to go to MSBs by 2024 through greater disaggregation of contracts.

Rowena Howie, London Policy representative, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The Mayor must enable micro and small businesses to address the challenges of tomorrow today. Now is the time to create the right infrastructure so that the skills deficit in London doesn't increase. Now is the time to ensure London can continue to attract migrant skills to meet our service needs. Now is the time to help small firms engage the next generation of skilled workers through investing in apprenticeships.

“There needs to be a particular focus on improving digital skills for all Londoners but to really improve productivity and realise London's potential there should be greater access to management and leadership training for small business.

“London is a great place to start a business but it needs to be a better place to grow a business. The capital should be seen as welcoming and progressive, with access for all but the Mayor also needs to ensure London really is a city of opportunity.

Other key recommendations from the Manifesto include:


  • Make ‘workplace wellbeing’ available to all. Ensure all small businesses across the London area can easily access no cost/low cost wellbeing solutions and strategies for them and their staff.
  • For the mayor to write to all major landowners in the capital – who own over 100,000 square feet of commercial space - calling on them to support their tenants with a new supportive small business statement that will hold them to account.
  • Lay the groundwork to Scrapping the Congestion Charge, LEZ and ULEZ and other charging mechanisms and replace with a fully consulted-on demand managed road pricing scheme which is dependent on usage of the roads, the time of journey and the environmental quality of the vehicle.

On the issue of commercial property for small firms, Rowena Howie said: “It's time to address the issue of big landlords squeezing smaller tenants. Without affordable commercial property our valuable small businesses will be forced to close or relocate elsewhere.”

On the issue of procurement and late payment, Rowena Howie said: “The Mayor should lead by example. Not enough public contracts go to local small businesses it's time to level the playing field, ensuring it's not just the bigger businesses who get access. We need a Mayor to champion small business by ending the late payment culture where large suppliers undermine small businesses by keeping them waiting more than 30 days for payment.”