Best in Class: Small Business Friendly Council

2018 was a big year for delivery: on housing, became living wage accredited and maintained our children’s centre service and libraries which was capped off with us being named alongside Leeds and Glasgow as one of the three new homes for Channel 4.

Today got off to a good start. I had the honour of being visited by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) who presented us with the “Best in Class: Best Overall Small Business Friendly Council” in the “Local Authority Small Business Friendly” Awards 2018.

This was the first year of what is intended to be an annual series of awards for Local Authorities by the Federation of Small Business.

Our pitch presented our business facing service teams in their entirety, from Economic Development, Employment, Skills and Learning to Business Rates, Commissioning and Procurement. We recognise that small businesses aren’t merely simply businesses but can be at the heart of communities and families, central to local economies and pathways to employment and prosperity for people otherwise locked out of economic opportunity.

In our pitch we had highlighted our commitment to social value in our contracts. This fit well with our ongoing work with the FSB and Small Medium Size Enterprises who are key partners in delivering inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

For those you with an interest it’s worth noting our refreshed Social Value Policy is going to Cabinet on the 22 January. The main revisions of the policy seek to increase the Social Value weighting in tenders to 20% as a standalone value, alongside the traditional price/quality split, and a spend target of 40% with micro, small, medium sized businesses and organisations, and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors.

The FSB itself said “Bristol City Council has invested significant resource to support SMEs to grow through a variety of projects including helping SMEs to access apprenticeship funding, providing financial support for a number of business groups, actively engaging with almost 2000 high street companies through its Business Improvement District programme and, at a challenging time for skills, providing regular Jobs Fairs and delivering sector-focused training in partnership with employers.

[Bristol] has also gone out of its way to help with business rates relief – offering £1m up front to the businesses they knew who were entitled to it rather than making each business submit an application. It has also recognised an issue the FSB takes very seriously by setting a policy of paying all their contractors for all good and services within 30 days of invoice as well as offering support to SMEs by showing them how the Social Value Act can aid them in their procurement ambitions. And it has also recently unveiled an Equality Charter to establish a positive culture of diversity in the workplace.”

Being recognised for our practical commitment to small businesses in the city is a great way to start the year. And its work that will remain committed to as our business continue to face the economic uncertainties of Brexit and challenges to high streets.

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