Given small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are the backbone of the British economy two initiatives by Croydon Council are welcome: a potential reduction in business rates and an enquiry by an independent Small Business Commission. However, there are many SMEs which offer a very low standard of service and flout laws.
Council Proposes Business Rates Reductions
Croydon Council plans to offer local businesses a reduction in their business rates,. Applications for rates relief will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the council will decide the period of relief awarded to each applicant. As a condition of obtaining rates relief under the scheme, businesses will be required to work towards Croydon Good Employer Charter accreditation – which aims to boost Croydon’s economy by supporting the local supply chain. The charter requires signatories to support the local economy by buying local and investing in local businesses and to being an inclusive employer by promoting equality and diversity in the workplace and implementing best practice for employee support.
Comment. One risk involved in a business rate reduction is that where businesses are tenants their landlords may wish to push up rents to have the saving shifted across to them.
Businesses which do not have refuse collection contracts, pay their employees at least the London Living Wage, ensure any service charges are distributed among employees, and have all the necessary insurances and certificates and licences required to operate, and in the case of restaurants and take away have a food hygiene standard of 3 or higher, and will commit to sweeping the pavement outside their premises and scrap of stickers fly-posted on the sides of their shop frontage frames. Any subsequent infringements should mean a reinstatement of full business rates.
SME Shortcomings Are Challenge To Work Of Croydon Small Business Commission
The Council has set up a Small Business Commission to explore the barriers to, and opportunities for, growth for Croydon Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). It is made up of representatives from local SMEs and business groups. The commission’s research will result in a report detailing recommendations for action, which will be published by next summer.
Comment. The Commission will need to look at the short-comings of many SMEs, given the number of cases of prosecutions for infringements that are regularly being reported in relation to Croydon businesses.
The Commission should also look at the way in which planning decisions are losing employment buildings which could lead to the moving out of existing SMEs are or mean reduced workspace for new businesses. An example is the decision by the Planning Committee to approve the pulling down of the premises at 35 Cromwell Rd, next to Wandle Park.
The latest small business seeking to avoid paying business costs has been Mirch Marsala (MM) in Couldson, which operates as a franchisee of the MM chain in Norbury and elsewhere.
The owner of the other MMs was fined for hygiene infringements at the Norbury restaurant in April 2015, and was pushed into bankruptcy by a creditor in June this year.