From The Top

Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan battle it out for the small business vote

Hannah Wilkinson | 13 April 2016 | 8 years ago

Goldsmith Khan
With less than a month to go, the battle to be crowned mayor of London is hotting up
Find out what London’s mayoral candidates had to say about small business policy during their latest debate.

Both of the frontrunners in the race to become the next mayor of London stepped up their game on small business policy when they went head-to-head at the Institute of Directors less than a month before the vote.

Subjects debated during the City A.M. hustings ranged from the affordability of office space in the capital to the availability of talent. Business Advice was there to pick out the key promises made in the small business space.

With the devolution of further education to the mayor’s office on the horizon during the successful candidate’s term of office, Conservative hopeful Zac Goldsmith promised to take this further and relinquish power to the businesses and local authorities who are working together to match training with the real jobs in the cutting edge industries like tech and the creative sector.

Labour candidate Sadiq Khan promised to promote STEM subjects among the capital’s students. Im passionate about getting school-aged children, especially girls, into coding, for example, into programming, into website design, so they can be applying for the jobs of tomorrow, he explained, adding that he planned to send startup founders into schools to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs though not fleshing out how he plans to lure entrepreneurs working seven-day weeks into the classroom.

When it comes to existing small businesses, Goldsmith also pledged to make superfast broadband London’s forth utility, while both said they want crack down on conversions of office space to residential developments.

we need to stop permitted development, where the government allows landowners to change their property from business to residential, not unreasonably, because it’s worth much, much more, argued Khan.

in my own borough of Richmond weve lost one-third of our offices in the last 18 months, and that is a trend that cannot be allowed to continue, added Goldsmith, who wants to ensure that all new commercial developments include working space for startups.

Khan also expressed concerns that independent retailers are missing out to franchisees when it comes to securing leases on high-street space. The London plan that were planning to have will protect the heritage of parts of London, and protect independent traders, he said. ‘survival of the fittest is leading to small businesses struggling.

As the debate turned more personal, Khan argued that his experience running a business in the capital means he can best sympathise with London’s small firm owners. Ive had the sleepless nights worrying about whether the overdraft will be extended and whether youll have enough money to pay the wages at the end of the month, he recalled.

The latest poll carried out by Opinium on behalf of the Evening Standard gives Khan an eight point lead.

Miss our interview with Zac Goldsmith? don’t worry, you can catch up here.

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