Boroughs praised for promoting small business

The pivotal role played by London boroughs in supporting and promoting the capital’s small businesses was highlighted this week at the Small Business Friendly Borough Awards.

Now in its fourth year, the Small Business Friendly Borough Awards is run by London Councils, which represents the 32 boroughs and the City of London, and the London region of the Federation of Small Businesses. The awards give councils well-deserved recognition for effective and imaginative schemes that encourage local entrepreneurship.

This year LB Wandsworth was crowned the Best All Round Small Business Friendly Borough for its wide range of support for small businesses and start-ups. This included launching Wandsworth Foodies in Autumn 2016 to provide one-to-one and group support tailored to the food industry; support to help businesses build capacity and skills to win contracts in the Nine Elms Regeneration area; the Wandsworth Business Loan Fund lending over £300,000 to businesses struggling to access finance and its flagship Wandsworth Enterprise Week.

LB Havering was highly commended in this category for its comprehensive programme of support, including over 1,500 advice sessions to SMEs, 40 workshops and network meetings and an intensive programme of support for the construction industry.

Other award winners included:

  • LB Merton won the award for Best Small Business Friendly Procurement to Support Local Trade for the procurement for their private taxi service for children with Special Education Needs (SEN) and vulnerable adults:
  • LB Lambeth and LB Sutton were joint winners of the award for Best Programme of Support for Small Business for their Lambeth Works affordable workspace programme and their Pop-Up Sutton Entrepreneurs Market respectively;
  • Cllr Ben Coleman, LB Hammersmith & Fulham won the inaugural award for Best Small Business Champion (Member), while Jenni Asiama from LB Wandsworth won the award for Best Small Business Champion (Officer).

Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ Executive member for Business, Skills and Brexit, said:

“Small businesses play a critical role in London’s economy. They account for almost 99% of London’s businesses and nearly half of the capital’s jobs. They are not only key wealth generators but are also an important part of their local communities.

“This year’s awards saw a record number of nominations and the variety and scope of this year’s winners demonstrates that the relationship between small businesses and councils in London remains positive.”

Steve Warwick, Chair of the London region of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“The FSB is proud to support the Small business friendly Borough Awards.  At a time when small firms in London are faced with an increase in the cost of doing business it is vitally important that Boroughs look to support their local economies.   From positive procurement policies to effective business support offerings, there is a lot that can be done. We need Boroughs to share best practice to support our micro and small business community that make up over 99% of all businesses in the capital - and these awards provide the right platform to showcase that best practice.”

This year’s ceremony was held at the Kingsway Hall Hotel in Holborn and was attended by figures from the public and private sector.

For more information on the Small Business Friendly Borough Awards, visit


Notes to editor

Best All Round Small Business Friendly Borough

This award commends councils for implementing wide-ranging policies to support and develop the local micro and small business community.

Winner – London Borough of Wandsworth

Wandsworth’s package of support includes launching Wandsworth Foodies' in Autumn 2016 providing one-to-one and group support tailored to the food industry; one-to-one and workshop support to help businesses build capacity and skills to win contracts in the Nine Elms Regeneration area; Wandsworth Enterprise Week, with 2,300 people benefitting from 45 events in 2015 and 2016; Wandsworth Digi-tech booster programme to support the sector's growth; providing support to 200 established and 60 start-up businesses in 2016/17 through 14 workshops and one-to-one support; Wandsworth Business Loan Fund lending over £300,000 to businesses struggling to access finance; launching two new BIDs to support town centres; supporting over 100 children to be tech enterprises of the future through Coding Clubs programme and commissioning work to help understand the future needs for affordable workspace.

Highly Commended – London Borough of Havering

Havering’s package of support includes offering SMEs the opportunity to influence local policy and meet the Leader at the quarterly Havering Business Network; quarterly meetings of the Women in Business Network; Small Business seminars; the annual Havering Business Awards; supporting start-ups through creating three new workspaces and bespoke targeted services; Investing in infrastructure in 7 town centres; Build Havering programme to provide intensive support for Construction SMEs; Hosting the Centre of Engineering & Manufacturing Excellence (CEME).

Since April 2015, Havering has delivered over 1,500 advice sessions to SMEs, supported over 200 start-ups, delivered over 40 workshops and network meetings and created 60 new jobs through their Business Engagement Programme.

Best Programme of Support for Small Businesses

This award recognises programmes of support around a particular theme, which have encouraged and supported a borough’s micro and small business community.

Joint Winner – London Borough of Lambeth

Lambeth Works

The council's ambitious affordable workspace programme for start-ups, micro and small businesses. Lambeth Works is designed to provide at least 140,000 sq ft of new affordable workspace within the borough over the next five years. The programme has involved: the use of council assets to enable new workspace projects; £2m+ funding from the council and the GLA; Use of S106 process to secure affordable workspace in new developments; Article 4 directions to halt losses of small business space in Brixton, Clapham and 10 industrial areas; partnership working with local BIDs; a business rates campaign, lobbying against the 2017 revaluation.

The programme has already delivered the launch of 3 supportive workspaces supporting over 250 businesses; safeguarding provisions for existing affordable workspace through Article 4 directions to halt the loss of space from later in 2017; Increased access to affordable workspace for residents from disadvantaged backgrounds; and increased volunteering through "community give back" clauses for businesses benefitting from affordable workspace.

Joint Winner – London Borough of Sutton

Pop-Up Sutton: The Entrepreneurs Market

The programme is a new and innovative project to stimulate business "start-ups" that enables entrepreneurs to get a foot on the business ladder. Access is provided to a ready-made audience so they can test their business ideas at a popular market on the high street. The market takes place once a month, providing a regular platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their products or services. A specialist business support package complements the offer and this includes workshops on setting up a business, marketing, merchandising and finance. Bespoke support is offered to meet specific needs, including advice and guidance on funding, business plans and how to locate premises. A robust communications strategy is in place to publicise and grow the market.

Since the scheme launched in Feb 2016, the project has supported 88 local entrepreneurs through the business support programme and monthly market. 5 new businesses have been created through pop-up Sutton and over 90 hours of business support training has been provided. Significant positive feedback has been received with 100% of respondents saying they would recommend the programme to others.

Best Small Business Friendly Procurement to Support Local Trade

Winner – London Borough of Merton

Private Taxi Service for Children with Special Education Needs (SEN) and vulnerable adults

Merton transports approximately 280 passengers per day, using 11 taxi-operators, at a cost of £2.8m p.a. (excluding in-house mini-bus fleet). Increasingly the service suffered from a lack of suitably qualified and available taxi-operators able to meet the Council’s requirements, and increased costs. Following initial interviews, a pilot was undertaken, leading to the development of a Dynamic Purchasing system. The DPS went live in December 2016 with 28 suppliers fully enrolled. Traditional barriers experienced by the local market to the contract have been significantly reduced, more local suppliers have access to market opportunities that previously proved inaccessible; prolonged training and support was provided at no cost to local suppliers; local suppliers have improved capacity; new local entrants are winning businesses; and through the on-line weekly "self-billing" system, there is a much shorter turnaround time for the receipt of payments and a reduction in admin costs for both the providers and the council.

Best Small Business Champion

Winner (Member) – Cllr Ben Coleman, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

Cllr Coleman is Cabinet Member for Commercial Revenue and Resident Satisfaction at LBHF and Councillor for Fulham Broadway.

Cllr Coleman set up a taskforce to develop an “economic and social value” policy to create more opportunities for local firms and residents through council procurement. An economic and social value plan must now be agreed for any procurement or S106 agreement and the new rules include a requirement for prompt payment by main contractors to sub-contractors.  He backed a council-run construction supply chain programme to help local firms access and win tenders. Over 150 businesses have had 12 hours of free support, leading to new sales worth £1,018,000.

He also led an action group of businesses, stallholders and residents to revive North End Road in Fulham; worked to expand the annual Brilliant Business Awards - last year saw 2,800 people voting and over 100 businesses competed for a Judge's Prize – and as Economic Regeneration chair, he ensured genuine business involvement in council policy-making, regularly attracting 50-100 attendees to meetings. This led to a new Local Plan policy to restrict betting shops, a business-council action group to tackle empty shops, and an arts strategy to enhance the borough as a creative and exciting place.

Winner (Officer) – Jenni Asiama, London Borough of Wandsworth

Jenni developed and delivered the first Wandsworth Enterprise Week in 2014 and helped build the flagship programme from 12 events attended by 300 people in its first year to 25 events attended by over 1,600 people by 2016. In 2015 she created a programme of ‘taster’ business basics workshops, which were facilitated by support organisations such as NatWest Business and the ICAEW. She introduced a New Biz on the Block feature for the EDO’s monthly newsletter to highlight new businesses that had recently opened and supported Wandsworth's Small Business Saturday campaign in 2015, arranging for local SMEs to showcase their services by the SBS bus (for which Wandsworth was a stop).