From the top · 4 May 2016

London mayoral election 2016: What small business owners can expect from each candidate

London mayor
Who’ll be London’s next mayor? From left to right: Khan, Pidgeon, Whittle, Berry and Goldsmith
London’s mayoral elections take place on 5 May and’small business owners may still be in the dark about wholl best represent their interests in the capital. To help you decide who to vote for, Business Advice has taken a look at each candidate and what theyve promised London’s smaller firms.

On Thursday 5 May, Londoners will go to the polls to elect a new mayor to replace Boris Johnson. The election is an important one for the capital city’s business owners. Whichever candidate clinches the capital city’s top job will take control of a large budget and command significant influence, gaining the ability to make a real difference to the lives of people in the city.

But, youd be forgiven for forgetting about the mayoral election completely. Political squabbles in Westminster have meant that the race for London’s mayor may have flown under the radar for many. So if you’re just catching up, here’s a round-up of the main parties? candidates and the policies most likely to affect small business owners.

Green Party: Sian Berry ?

Berry joined the Green Party in 2001 as a councillor in the London borough of Camden. She is currently the only councillor representing the Greens in her borough, alongside 40 Labour councillors, 12 Conservatives and a single Liberal Democrat.

Berry is a transport campaigner by profession, and has maintained a reputation for combining electoral politics with campaigning on issues affecting her local community. For years, she has worked on issues around the funding of local services and conditions for local workers, staunchly advocating the Living Wage for people in the capital. Her policies for small business include:

  • The creation of a Bank for London? to support small businesses and the local economy
  • The introduction of the London Living Wage for the one in five working Londoners who are still paid less
  • Reduce the loss of arts and music venues by using planning powers

Labour Party: Sadiq Khan

The son of PakistanI immigrants, Khan has lived in London his whole life. He built a career as a human rights lawyer, ending up running a law firm of 50 employees. In 2005 he was elected as MP in the area of London where he grew up Tooting.

His first post was as minister for community cohesion, where he worked with people of all faiths to promote compassion and understanding within communities. He then became the first Asian minister in Cabinet as minister for transport, overseeing London’s Crossrail project, amongst others. He headed up Labour’s London campaign in the general election last year, increasing his party’s vote in the city overall. His policies for small business include:

  • The prevention of the loss of business space, by working with local authorities to stop the excessive conversion of commercial spaces
  • Promoting the provision of premises for small businesses and startups in housing and commercial developments, via the London Plan?
  • Offering live-work units as part of an affordable housing programme.
  • Supporting communities that want to maintain the character of high streets and champion independent retailers

Liberal Democrats: Caroline Pidgeon

As well as the Lib Dem candidate for this year’s mayoral election, Pidgeon also acts as the leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and is deputy chair of both the Assembly’s transport and police and crime committees.

Moving to London from Wales as a postgraduate in 1994, Pidgeon worked in local government and the health service for over a decade before becoming a full-time politician. She was councillor in Southwark from 1998 to 2010, and has a strong track record of campaigning for better public transport and policing across the capital. Her policies for small business include:

  • Ensuring that every small business has access to super-fast broadband whilst working with providers to eliminate not-spots? for mobile phone and data coverage across London
  • Support for small businesses and job opportunities in the growing digital technology sector
  • The creation of more local enterprise zones and mayoral development corporative partnerships encouraging new business growth through business rate incentives
  • Opposing the conversion of vital business premises to luxury accommodation, including the permanent exemption of Tech City and Central Activities Zone beyond 2019

Conservative Party: Zac Goldsmith

Son of billionaire businessman James Goldsmith, London native Zac went to Eton College and then Cambridge University before becoming a journalist. He was editor of The Ecologist magazine for nearly a decade before being elected as MP for Richmond Park in the 2010 general election.

Since then he has been vocal in parliament on everything from the welfare state to the EU. On a local level, Goldsmith has campaigned on issues such as schooling, hospitals and the importance of recreational areas. His policies for small business include:

  • Devolving business rate powers to borough councils to boost startups and scale-ups at the local level
  • Cutting red tape for small businesses, focussing particularly on house builders with high construction costs
  • Championing a new public procurement process carving up larger strategic contracts into smaller, more manageable contracts for smaller firms
  • Ending late payments to smaller suppliers by introducing a London Faster Payment programme

Respect: George Galloway



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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