24 July 2018
We’re extremely proud that our Chief Executive, Gareth Evans was invited by Enterprise Nation to meet Jimmy McLoughlin, business advisor to the Prime Minister, at 10 Downing Street - yes that’s right, 10 Downing Street!
Gareth was joined by a group of 20 influencers, business leaders and small businesses to discuss the changes to government policies that could be put in place to support rural entrepreneurs.
As we aim to be a champion of Britain’s micro and small businesses, before the meeting we sent out a survey asking what changes they would like to be addressed at this year’s Autumn Statement. Gareth commented,
“It was a great honour to visit 10 Downing Street on behalf of the UK’s small businesses and entrepreneurs and to present findings from our survey.
Responses revealed that national insurance, VAT and business rates are the main causes hampering their profit margins and development. The government must do more to address this. With Brexit negotiations looking increasingly unsteady, it is more important than ever to nurture and support SMEs and entrepreneurs across the country, driving growth and productivity.”
On several occasions throughout the meeting, the issue of slow internet speed was brought up, highlighting that the lack of bandwidth is hindering growth opportunities for small businesses.
Another attendee, Richard Marsh from CIS, commented that his company is executing a tech solution to provide affordable connections for rural businesses.
Also highlighted was the need to implement more business support, investment advice and grants for start-ups, better maternity rights, tax incentives for apprenticeships and lower employee costs. Katrina Rowton-Lee, who runs a bed and breakfast, said she initially struggled to find help and advice about setting up a business before Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership provided support. She believes that there should be better support for rural entrepreneurs when looking for funding.
The discussion also focused on the lack of business centres across the UK’s regional towns and cities. There is a need for increased flexible workspace as many business managers don’t want to move to a city to run or establish a business. High rent costs, lack of decent, affordable workspace and the volume of large corporate organisations in city centres are pushing small businesses out.
However, the government’s empty property rates (EPR) are also highly restrictive to the development of affordable workspace across the country. Empty buildings are exempt from business rates for between three to twelve months, depending on the property type, but after this time businesses must pay full rates. This means there’s often only a short time to completely fill a property with customers. EPR costs companies such as ours around £3 million each year. We argue that a longer exemption period would encourage more rural business centres across the UK.
“BizSpace is committed to supporting the future of the UK’s rural entrepreneurs, providing them with high-quality flexible and affordable business space and on-going support and advice enabling them to thrive.” Said Gareth Evans.
With most of our centres located in rural areas, we are rolling out an investment program to deliver a high-speed fibre network. This will provide internet speeds of up to 100mbs at our new sites, addressing the on-going frustration with rural broadband.
We aim to support our customers by providing business advice sessions and running seminars on a range of topics including business tips for SMEs, to how to boost your digital and social media presence. This is currently a weekly occurrence at our Bristol business centre, hosting collaborative events with customers and bringing in industry experts to host seminars. We are rolling out another programme of workshops called Campus One. The first workshop, being held at our Bolton site on 26th July, will cover branding and marketing for your business.
Wherever possible, we use local suppliers and use the services of our customers. We also encourage customers to trade with each other and many of them do so daily. Striving to provide sustainable environments, events and skills to local communities across the UK, we encourage our staff to develop close relationships with local authorities, organisations like The Federation of Small Businesses and business-minded institutions such as the Chamber of Commerce.
Here at BizSpace, we have a place for everyone to call home whether you’re a small business or you want to turn a hobby into a career, we aim to support everyone’s dreams.