News in brief: London Mayoralty, Sunday trading, cyber crime, virtual offices

News in brief
News in brief

Sadiq Khan’s manifesto for London Mayoralty

Shadow minister Sadiq Khan has released his ‘Manifesto for all Londoners’ in the run up to the Mayoral election. His priorities include:

  • Be the most pro-business Mayor yet, working in partnership with industry to deliver on skills, infrastructure, and growth
  • Set up Skills for Londoners to ensure all Londoners have the opportunity to train in the skills that our economy needs
  • Tackle low pay, working with employers to make London a Living Wage City
  • Challenge gender inequality, working to close the gender pay gap and support women to break the glass ceiling while helping to remove the barriers to women’s success.

Khan says in the manifesto that “small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs are at the heart of our economy and our communities, and supporting them to grow, innovate and create wealth and jobs will be central to my plans.”

With SMEs in mind in particular, Khan pledges to prevent the loss of business space, by working with local authorities to stop the excessive conversion of commercial space under permitted development rights and promote the provision of small business and start-up premises in housing and commercial developments through the London Plan.

Updated Sunday trading laws to boost economy

Extended Sunday trading hours would benefit the UK economy by an estimated £1.5bn over 10 years.

This is according to the latest figures from the government, which also claim that there is potential for this figure to be even higher, depending on the decisions made by local authorities once the powers have been devolved. Local authorities will also be able to ‘zone’ any relaxation so they will be able to prioritise high streets and city centres.

The measures also include greater freedoms for shop workers in England, Scotland and Wales to ‘opt-out’ of working Sundays if they choose to, for example because they object on religious grounds or for family reasons.

Communities Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Current Sunday trading rules are badly out of date and haven’t kept up with how we live our lives.

“This report shows how handing Sunday trading decision-making back to local people has clear benefits – both for shoppers, giving them the flexibility to shop when and where they want, and for businesses, boosting their potential for increased sales.

“That’s why we want to change the rules, so families can shop for longer, town centre stores can compete with the online giants, and more jobs are created for working people.”

SMEs more concerned about physical crime than cyber crime

Despite the growing threat posed by cyber criminals, a new survey has shown that people in the UK are still more concerned about physical crime.

The research, conducted by security fence specialists One Stop Fencing, found that 62% of us are mostly worried about physical crime. While 38% of the survey respondents suggested that they are now more preoccupied with protecting themselves against hackers, it’s clear that burglars and vandals are still the most pressing worry for the majority.

The company urged business owners to think about long-term costs when allocating their security budgets. A second survey showed that nearly one in three people see alarms as the best, most cost-effective way to protect a property overnight, followed by CCTV (28% of the vote), security guards (15%), motion-sensing floodlights (14%) and security fences (8%).

The way we work is changing

The way teams are working in offices around the world is changing, and becoming increasingly virtual. Around 52% of ‘knowledge workers’, or employees that think for a living, now work in virtual teams, and 42% believe this is more effective than one-to-one working.

This is according to research from communications software and services provider Unify, which surveyed 9,000 knowledge workers in the USA, UK and Germany to get under the skin of the jobs they do, what they would like to do and the workplace of the future. The report also found that 57% state they use “on-demand tools” (cloud or internet based) for teamwork or collaboration.

In addition, the research reported that the traditional office is also changing: on average, knowledge workers spend 20% of their time outside the office; 69% think the office as a physical workplace is less important than in the past; yet the office is not quite dead, as only 7% say they would like to spend between 75% and 100% of their working time away from it.

Business performance on the rise for SMEs

Business performance has improved for over two thirds of SMEs compared to three years ago with increased turnover, profitability and staff numbers.

This is according to Kingston Smith’s fourth report in its SME Success series, ‘Winning New Business’, which surveyed over 1,000 SMEs. Interestingly, improvement in business performance does not differ significantly between London and the South East compared to the rest of the UK. However, turnover growth differs greatly by sector with Information and Communication, Finance and Insurance Activities and Transport and Storage leading the way.

Paul Samrah, Partner at Kingston Smith comments, “This survey validates the view that SMEs have a critical role to play in driving the UK economy. The results are a positive reflection regarding future growth for SMEs. Much of the improved business performance can be attributed to a solid economic base with SMEs demonstrating tenacity, drive and commitment to finding innovative ways of winning business.”

The report indicates that SMEs consider the most important sources for generating new sales to be from selling existing products and services, rather than developing new products and services. In addition almost 60% of all SMEs surveyed said that they currently export to both the EU and the Rest of the World.