RATES REDUCTIONS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN CROYDON? / CROYDON COUNCIL BOOST FOR JOBSEEKERS WITH DISABILITIES / CROYDON ONLINE SKILLS DRIVE HELPS THOUSANDS IN ONE YEAR – more than 500 recycled computers being donated
Croydon council are set to boost local companies with money off their business rates and a new commission exploring how to make the borough’s small and large firms more successful.
Local businesses could save thousands on their business rates in the borough – with up to 100 percent discount available in some cases – under plans approved by the council’s cabinet.
Applications for rates relief will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the council will decide the period of relief awarded to each applicant.
The council has also set up a Small Business Commission to explore the barriers to, and opportunities for, growth for Croydon Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Made up of representatives from local SMEs and business groups, the commission will use workshops, a survey and individual visits to ask hundreds of large and small companies across the borough for their feedback on what helps and hinders their economic growth.
The business rate relief scheme aims to further promote business growth in Croydon by supporting inward investment from large and smaller companies looking to move to the borough, which also support the local economy by bringing empty commercial space back into use.
As a condition of obtaining rates relief under the scheme, businesses will be required to work towards Croydon Good Employer Charter accreditation – which aims to boost Croydon’s economy by supporting the local supply chain.
The charter requires signatories to support the local economy by buying local and investing in local businesses and to being an inclusive employer by promoting equality and diversity in the workplace and implementing best practice for employee support.
The commission’s research will result in a report detailing recommendations for action, which will be published by next summer.
Cllr Mark Watson, Croydon’s cabinet member for economy and jobs, says: “More and more organisations are realising the benefits of setting up their business in Croydon and we are committed to seeing them grow and succeed to create a stronger economy and more jobs.
“The incentive of relief on business rates is yet another reason for businesses to choose Croydon as their base, together with the excellent transport links and the continued investment in the borough.
“In addition to offering up to 100 percent rate relief, this council is underlining its commitment to supporting local SMEs by setting up the new Small Business Commission to explore how to make Croydon an even better place to work.”
Andrew Bauer, chairman of the new Small Business Commission, said: “I’m very pleased the council has created this commission, which will pool the experiences of small independent retailers across the borough.
“This will en able us to identify in detail what the Croydon economy does well and what it can do better as we move into a period of significant regeneration and business opportunity.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
COUNCIL BOOST FOR JOBSEEKERS WITH DISABILITIES
A council-led pilot project that has helped over 20 Croydon people with disabilities get jobs or work placements is set to become a regular fixture.
Croydon council held its first specialist jobs fair where 25 skilled applicants with physical, learning, autism or mental health disabilities networked with around 20 visiting employers who pitched their vacancies in the retail, tourism and care sectors.
Called a reverse jobs fair because the employers circulate around the room visiting candidates instead of the other way around, the event was designed to increase recruiters’ awareness of what the candidates can offer and to improve applicants’ job prospects.
The event at the Community Space at the council’s Bernard Weatherill House offices, which was opened by the Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, has now led to:
• Four permanent jobs
• One apprenticeship offer
• One paid work placement
• Five work trials
• 14 offers of work experience
Now the council are planning a follow-up reverse jobs fair in June, as well as three disability awareness training days for local public and private sector employers that hire hundreds of local staff between them.
It was also announced at the reverse jobs fair that Croydon council have now been granted the status of Disability-Confident Employer, the second-level accreditation given by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to employers that recruit and retain people with disabilities.
The reverse jobs fair was organised by Croydon council with support from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the DWP and the business and charitable sectors.
Robert Elston, chief executive of Status Employment, a specialist recruitment agency for people with severe and long-lasting mental health needs, said: “There was quite a buzz in the room, and it got the employers thinking because they had to sell themselves rather than the other way round.
“It was a great effort by Croydon council – to get around 20 organisations in the room was hugely impressive; normally you are lucky if you get two or three.”
Cllr Jamie Audsley, Croydon’s deputy cabinet member for the economy and jobs, said: “Fresh from the council helping over 50 people into jobs at Boxpark (in St George Street Croydon) this project is another example of how we are supporting Croydon residents into local employment.
“I’m really pleased that this reverse jobs fair was a success, and I look forward to us organising more events in 2017 that will continue to help borough residents with disabilities into work.”
Recruiters or disabled applicants wanting more information about future reverse jobs fairs can email: [email protected] or call 0208 726 6000 extension 13608.
For information about how companies can employ more people with disabilities, please visit the British Association of Supported Employment website. (Source: Croydon council press release)
ONLINE SKILLS DRIVE HELPS THOUSANDS IN ONE YEAR – more than 500 recycled computers being donated
A Croydon council-led project that has helped almost 3,000 people gain IT skills is marking its first anniversary by donating over 500 recycled council computers to local groups.
In November 2015, Croydon Council and charity Doteveryone (formerly Go On UK) launched Go ON Croydon to help more people, especially the elderly, feel confident about going online to explore hobbies, make social connections and access local services.
To do this, Go ON Croydon digital champion volunteers from the council, locally-based private companies and the borough’s charitable sector set up digital zones, where the public can access computers for free and get support with basic IT skills.
The project’s successes include:
• Helping nearly 3,000 digital zone visitors to work on their computer skills
• Establishing 26 digital zones, from the council’s Access Croydon to community centres, with over 15 new ones being set up
• Setting up free wifi in Surrey Street for shoppers and market visitors
• Organising drop-in sessions for council sheltered accommodation tenants using loaned IT equipment
Now over 500 recycled Croydon Council laptop and desktop computers will be donated by next summer to local groups across the borough following an IT upgrade. The computers will go to a range of groups by next June, from churches to community centres.
At a special event on Thursday to mark the project’s first birthday, it was also announced that research commissioned by Lloyds Bank showed the percentage of Croydon people with basic digital skills had risen from 70% to 79% in the year since the project began.
The event at the TMRW tech hub in central Croydon welcomed around 40 people, from residents who have benefited from the project to council representatives and their project partners including BT, Lloyds Bank, Crisis, the Metropolitan Police and Age UK.
Cllr Mark Watson, Croydon’s cabinet member for the economy and jobs, spoke at the event to praise the involvement of partner organisations.
These included Lloyds Bank for its use of two Croydon branches as digital zones, and homelessness charity Crisis, who piloted a scheme where homeless people got a free mobile phone from EE (now BT) to access services online and get help.
Cllr Watson told the event: “There’s no use saying ‘it’s good to go online’ – you need to find a good reason for people to get online; walking, football, making jam or even studying the behaviour of foxes. “There’s a whole generation that never had that knowledge.
“A whole world of possibilities is opening up to people, and that is really transformational with them getting joy from the internet.”
To learn about Go On Croydon, and how to get involved in your neighbourhood, go to www.croydon.gov.uk.gov/go-on-croydon (Source: Croydon council press release)