The Small Business Friendly Borough Awards, which have been running since 2013, are delivered jointly by London Councils and the London region of the Federation of Small Business. The awards recognise boroughs that have gone above and beyond in supporting their local businesses.
Via initiatives such as London Councils Pledges for Business, boroughs will continue to develop a more corporate approach to supporting our local economies and build on the lessons learnt during the pandemic.
A total of 20 entries were received in the award’s two categories:
- Best all Round small business friendly borough
- Best Programme of Support for Small Businesses
Best All Round Small Business Friendly Borough
Winner: LB Haringey
Like most London boroughs Haringey is a small business economy. Of its 14,000 businesses, 91% employ less than 10 people, with the majority employing less than four people.
Haringey demonstrated a strong set of activities, which demonstrated real innovation and a willingness to engage with businesses.
Highlights of their programme included:
- Innovation in their approach to procurement resulting in local businesses winning a total of £238m worth of council contracts.
- £2.7m of business loan funds levered in additional £3.2m private sector investment.
- Working with businesses and a major landlord to prevent significant rent increases, business closures and loss of jobs.
- Tackling crimes against businesses and delivering new affordable workspaces. As well as setting up a High Streets Network, bringing together the chairs of the borough’s eight town centre business associations to discuss strategic issues, the borough has also developed an Industrial Areas Action Plan responding to the adverse impact of the Covid-19.
“In our experience Haringey Council has consistently demonstrated they want to work with businesses and try to facilitate an environment which allows us to flourish and reach our potential. It is worth noting that we often see familiar faces from the Council at various local events and that both staff from the council as well as elected officials have always been very responsive.” Andy Moffat, Director, Redemption Brewing Company Ltd
“Through the Opportunity Investment Fund, Haringey has played a crucial part in facilitating the construction of our recording studios and the growth of our business over the past 4 years. Without the OIF, these barriers to entry would have prevented our business from growing at the rate it has and many of the artists in our community would be without a musical home.” Robert Burn (Founder), Ten 87 studios Ltd.
“Haringey’s team offered great help and support during COVID pandemic and kept us well informed not just about new rules and regulations but also about grants and bounce back loans. Their encouragement and active involvement helped us create profitable, passionate and productive workplaces and working relationships within Muswell Hill area.” Deanna Bogdanovic, Muswell Businesses – Muswell Hill Traders Association
Shortlisted: LB Barnet, Westminster City Council and LB Enfield
Best Programme of Support for Small Businesses
Winner: LB Tower Hamlets
Tower Hamlets delivered a focused series of business support, helping local businesses to pivot their business models in response to the pandemic.
Initially 50 SMEs benefited, leading to a further project for 210 business receiving in depth support. 844 business accessed live masterclasses ranging from digital marketing and support in getting an offline business online, to intellectual property rights and accessing funding. This was supported by a thriving high streets programme, including a local e-cargo bike delivery supporting 46 high street retailers to develop home deliveries during lockdown.
Their submission included lots of positive feedback from SMEs, citing this practical support.
“Unbelievable. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful and cannot wait to get started. My love for Bethnal Green and its people is something I cannot explain. It’s something I feel in my heart. The grant helped give us the confidence and hopefully take our 37-year-old cafe business into a new era” Hannah, Arches Café
“It’s a wonderful initiative! The action plan was helpful, and the application process was smooth & easy, which really helps struggling SMEs like us!” Dian-Jen, Post Carbon Lab “The programme has been extremely helpful to us in reshaping our business post-Covid. Moving our business online has proven to be the right choice” Jarvous, Sinda Corporation UK
“I found the class very useful particularly as we are looking at our digital marketing needs and areas that need focus.” Anouk Khan, Real Estate Women
Highly Commended: LB Hounslow
Shortlisted: LB Islington and LB Richmond Upon Thames
This was a strong all-round submission. Barnet supported businesses to promote their town centres and build a sense of community, through social media campaigns, festivals (attended by over 12,000 people), celebrating local heroes and making town centres more attractive, including 23 new parklets in nine town centres. The council’s Employment Support Agency supported 246 people into employment and 33 into education or training. At the same time as one of London’s largest boroughs they delivered grants worth £116.5m to 7,426 businesses (data up until Sept 2021).
Westminster City Council
The council ramped up the Westminster Business Unit making it easier for businesses, particularly SMEs, to navigate council services with a single point of contact offering bespoke support. The unit handled in excess of 20,000 individual business enquiries, with over 1,000 one-to-one appointments. Over 4,000 local business accessed business support programmes. Their Alfresco scheme delivered pavement licenses for in excess of 560 premises, creating 17,000 ‘covers’. The council used £500,000 of discretionary business grants (ARG) to support 1,000 small businesses to deliver a Green Business Audit, with a further £1m being invested to help address the hospitality recruitment crisis. The borough continued delivering their EU funded business digital connectivity work throughout the pandemic.
There was a strong emphasis on local culture via Enjoy Enfield Summer and Month of Sundays town centre festivals in Enfield’s programme. Enfield offered an innovative form of business support, offering free membership to Federation of Small Businesses, with a total of 749 SMEs signed up and a focus on the more deprived wards. There was a huge level of support for businesses to reopen safely including 3,000 welcome back packs sent to individual businesses. Their submission included a strong mix of local business testimonials
Highly commended: LB Hounslow
Hounslow’s Shop Local programme, utilised social media for promotions and business support to help retailers to market themselves digitally. There was real local innovation with the Hounslow Shop Local Voucher initiative, giving every household a free £20 voucher to spend at participating local businesses within a four-month period to encourage residents to support recovery on their local high street. The campaign set a target of reaching 250 registered businesses; 434 have participated. A target for voucher redemption was set at £850,000, which was also surpassed with £900,000 redeemed.
Shortlisted: LB Islington
Despite the pandemic the borough continued their support for new affordable workspaces and operationalised four flagship affordable workspace with a specific focus on cultural, tech and fashion businesses. Islington had a clear objective to not just supply workspace but also deliver inclusive outcomes including promoting youth work experience and the London Living Wage and a focus on supporting black, minority ethnic and female owed businesses.
Shortlisted: LB Richmond Upon Thames
The borough’s Phoenix Enterprise Support Programme, start-up and early stage business support had 800 participants, including 337 start-ups. Support ranged from webinars, networking sessions and one to one mentoring, responding to locally defined needs, including digital skills, negotiating with your landlord and promoting local Kickstart employment with retailers. This was supported by e-trading platform MyTown Shops, supporting 66 shops to trade on-line, with the use of three E-cargo bikes.