Local authorities to help boost SMEs and serviced office space market
Local authorities are being urged to enter into partnerships with Business Centre Association (BCA) members, in order to run flexible workspace or to sell off under-performing business centres run by local authorities.
The move is in line with the government’s pre-Budget aim to cut costs and raise money from its property estate.
It is expected to encourage more development of serviced offices and business centres in the private sector, which would not only boost the service office space market, but also support small businesses in the UK and generate more employment and regeneration opportunities.
The result is also expected to assist the BCA’s proposed Flexible Space Voucher Scheme – which plans to provide workspace for start-ups and SMEs for one year for free, and then at a reduced rate for two more years. The scheme would be funded either through profit share management agreements between local authorities and private sector operators, or from the sale of local-authority run business centres.
Tom Stokes, past chair of the BCA and managing director of Evans Easyspace, who are participating in the voucher scheme in the UK, says:
“The sale of local authority assets will not only raise capital for the government but will take business centres out of public ownership into the private sector, removing the feeling of unfair competition and resulting in more private sector business centres being developed.”
Jennifer Brooke, executive director of the BCA, says:
“Among other attributes, BCA members offer a higher level of ongoing workspace support, greater investment in services and new technology and generally create a more commercial working environment with fewer resultant business failures. The voucher scheme also provides a springboard from which start-ups can develop their business, encouraging in turn a strong entrepreneurial spirit within the UK economy.”