Cllr Irfan Mohammed is Lambeth’s Business Champion and a councillor in Ferndale ward.
As a Ferndale Councillor and a former small business owner, I believe that Lambeth Labour understands small businesses best and has a track record of working with businesses across the borough. I have seen first-hand the support we have offered businesses through innovative council initiatives. I was proud to join my Labour colleagues to campaign against the Tory government’s business rate hikes which threatened the future of many local employers. A Labour government would review business rates and ensure they are fair and do not put small businesses at risk.
A decade after the devastating international financial crisis, our financial system is still holding back too many of our small businesses. As Lambeth Labour Councillors, we like to support our local businesses to thrive and be successful, ensuring that our economy works for all. With thousands of businesses in Lambeth and many more opening over the years, we want to ensure that Lambeth is one of the best London boroughs to start a business in. Over the years, we have made bold decisions to create affordable business space, creating hundreds of new well-paid jobs for local people, and have been innovators with the first Living Wage building, International House.
In our manifesto, Lambeth Labour has pledged to create at least 140,000 square foot of affordable workspace across Lambeth over the next four years, helping to create hundreds of new jobs. Labour will prioritise local businesses and start-ups, offer discounted space on council land and require it in new commercial developments so that local businesses aren’t priced out of the borough. As well as lobbying the government, Lambeth Labour used its own powers to support businesses through a discretionary business rate discount scheme which I know has allowed many traders to remain in the borough. Under Labour, Lambeth council has protected the small, independent businesses that make our area special. Following lobbying by the local Labour Team, new planning rules were introduced banning developers from converting workspace into flats which has helped protect jobs and preserve the identity of Brixton’s high street.
Local businesses help build communities, making streets become vibrant places and bringing residents together. Small businesses are the largest employer of jobs nationally and tend to provide more jobs to local residents. As shops are found within walking distance, rather than a drive away, more people shopping locally would considerably reduce air pollution and reduce traffic. Do join us in celebrating and visiting our local small businesses on Small Business Saturday, which this year is on the 7th of December. The Labour Party is proudly supporting small businesses and proposes numerous changes to assist them, such as establishing a Business Development Agency to provide support, delivering fibre broadband to all and offering small loans through a new Post Bank.
Cllr Irfan Mohammed