As part of my responsibilities, I chair the London Debt Strategy Forum. Dealing with our debt is one of many issues that we face in achieving and maintaining our vision for London’s economy. Whilst London has fared a little better than many areas of the UK, things still remain tough for many of us. The biggest issue for us here is how we support businesses (particularly small businesses) and Londoners without spending money that we don’t have; tax receipts have decreased during the last couple of years. We also need to ensure that the gap between our wealthiest and poorest residents does not increase as it did under the Labour Government.
The Economic Development Strategy for London sets out our vision, the issues we face and the strategies we are employing to deal with them in more detail.
Here are some of the specific things that the GLA have been working on as part of this strategy:
Supporting Shops and Local Businesses
Independent shops and local businesses are at the heart of our communities, especially in some of the areas in which I represent and should be at the heart of our economic regeneration and development. Defending and sustaining the economic strength of West London and harnessing the enterprise and cultural vibrancy of areas like Southall are critical to this redevelopment. The GLA is also committed to helping small local businesses and have made sure that the London Plan allows for the Mayor and the Borough’s to make provision for small affordable shop units with large retail developments.
We had a lot of feedback that competing for GLA contracts was too difficult – we have introduced a new framework here to make it easier for all buinesses to have fair access to the GLA’s annual budget.
I believe strongly in the need to create more apprenticeships in London and we have been calling formally on businesses to do that. Some of the key public projects have set up apprenticeships – the Olympics has an expected 350 apprenticeships available and Crossrail, 1,000.