Round table discussion with the Mayor.

On 19/01/2021 KBS joined an open round table discussion, hosted by Intuit QuickBooks, with the Mayor of the West-Midlands, Andy Street, and several other prominent business owners to discuss the issues faced by start-ups because of Coronavirus and Brexit. This discussion was focusing on the issues faced specifically by the BAME community.

Prior to this discussion we were asked to put forward a selection of questions to be addressed and were given an opportunity to ask our own questions directly to the Mayor, as well as propose some solutions. I was very enthused by the responses the Mayor gave to every participant query on the day, however I was and still am slightly disheartened by the lack of any realisable action.

After speaking with several of our very own clients and with other BAME business owners throughout our network we decided to put forward 3 questions verbally to the mayor that were most common among our networks.

These were centred around:

  • Bounce back loan universality,
  • Health issues faced by BAME community,
  • Concerns of single parent business owners’ households where resources are limited.

Andys’ answer to our queries were placating and positive, such as commenting that there are alternative financial support options available, that the governments role out of vaccines is being prioritised for the elderly and extremely vulnerable, and that where there is difficulty in a home for parents to provide a laptop for their children, regardless of their age, the schools and colleges are able to provide this resource to them.

Okay, Andy, thank you for your answers, I understand you were not prepared to deal with these questions on the spot. However, Andy was prepared to deal with our written questions presented to him during the town hall discussion later. Our questions were:

  • What provision do you anticipate will be put in place to support BAME women to be more fairly represented in positions of authority in private sector businesses?
    What additional support or funding will be available to the self-employed people who were ineligible for the first 3 SEISS grants?
  • What support will be put in place to help BAME women and single parents who are business owners recover from this pandemic, improve their mental health, improve their financial literacy, and grow and sustain their businesses?
  • Unfortunately, the answers to these questions were equally positive, placating, and vague. The most encouraging thing I heard from Andy was that there is likely to be a “pent up demand” among consumers following the lifting of lockdown restrictions and we can expect to see a growth in sales revenue for most businesses. This is fantastic news for small business owners, and something we need to be prepared for and capitalise on.

Alongside my discussion with Andy, I have been supporting the Forgotten campaign and we received some slightly more positive news. We will all be looking forward to the announcement of SEISS grant 4, DISS and TIGS grants in time for the new financial budget coming March. You can see a report on that here.

However, we are also hearing some very worrying hints about increase to capital gains, dividend and corporation taxes which will a big hit to limited company directors. We will be posting updates regarding those as soon as we get them, so please remember to like, subscribe, and follow our social media pages to be kept up to date.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these issues, and in particular your ideas, solutions and successes but also any other issues you would like to be raised to local MP’s as we will soon be reaching out to London based MPs to gather support. Please feel free to head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment for open discussion.

Thank You.

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