To hear from representatives of Southwark Businesses Improvement Districts on the Impact of Cost-Of-Living Crisis on businesses:
· Russell Dryden, Blue Bermondsey
· Nic Durston, South Bank London
· Natalie Raben, We are Waterloo (TBC)
The commission first heard from Russell Dryden, Manager Blue Bermondsey Business Improvement District (BID) on the following topics
The commission then heard from Nic Durston, Chief Executive South Bank London around the following points:
The commission then asked questions around the following themes:
The commission heard from Russell that it would be beneficial for small businesses if there are further initiatives from the council to help cap rents in council owned commercial properties. The commission also learnt from Nic that more and more businesses are looking for flexibility in work spaces wherein they are not tied to long term leases and this flexibility in landlord business models is the way to the future.
The commission also heard that privately owned small businesses have downsized staff and brought in more flexible hourly contracts and temporary work. Hospitality businesses that had majority of European staff were already struggling due to Brexit and the pandemic further exacerbated the issue within their own labour market, shrinking it and causing such businesses to be open fewer days in a week. After the pandemic a lot of businesses have opted for flexible working arrangements where they can save overheads by people working from home a few days a week. Individual pays have risen keeping in line with inflation within the private sector.
Russell explained to the commission that it is important that pathways are created for local unemployed people through apprenticeships and training, BIDs have a proven track record in facilitating and supporting the local labour market. BIDs and local organisations have been successful in obtaining grants for small projects from Mayor Of London but often regulations impede the delivery of such projects.
The commission heard from Nic that Morley College which is a centre for adult education has now revised their curriculum to reflect local employer needs and regular meetings are taking place between the college and 10 BIDs to discuss the needs of employers, building a stronger network for the local labour market.
The commission also noted that there is a need for small local businesses to have the opportunity and support to get local projects and that this is an area where the Council’s local economy team could get involved.