in Regeneration

Wandsworth’s recession-beating package

There is a bit of a fashion for things like Recovery.gov and realhelpnow.gov.uk (although the latter apparently only includes Labour Party ‘help’) and I wonder whether I should offer recovery.jamescousins.com.

While the council hasn’t developed a nifty front-end it has put together a substantial package of help and assistance for the borough’s residents and businesses that will be considered at next weeks Corporate Resources OSC and at next month’s full council meeting (when we will hopefully be approving the 0% increase in council tax).

The report is being submitted under the Leader’s name, as it is the result of co-ordination of every council department to deliver real assistance at a time when it matters.  But as this is my blog I’m going to boast about the work that, at least in part, falls into my council remit:

  1. A review of enforcement to ensure it’s carried out in a business friendly way
  2. Spreading business rate payments over 12, rather than 10, months
  3. Promoting small business rate relief (in 2008/09 nearly 2,000 businesses benefited by over £1,100,000)
  4. Organising ‘Beat the Credit Crunch’ seminars for businesses
  5. Helping small retailers by letting them take payments on behalf of the council
  6. Making it easier for small businesses to bid for work from the council
  7. Providing grants and interest free loans for businesses to improve their premises
  8. Looking at ways to reduce the impact of vacant properties on their town centres
  9. Launching Tooting Together to improve the environment in Tooting town centre
  10. Working with businesses who want to establish Business Improvement Districts
  11. Launching the ‘Go Green’ project to help businesses make more efficient use of energy and resources
  12. Investing £170,000 in the Northcote Road action plan
  13. Holding Inward Investment events around the borough to promote job-creating investment across the borough
  14. Participation in the Employment and Skills Partnership to fight the effects of the recession and help the long-term unemployed into work
  15. Programmes specifically targeted at getting  young black men and those with disabilities into work
  16. Increasing the availability of apprenticeships
  17. Launch the Personal Best project, which will help over 200 people into work by improving their skills through volunteering
  18. Working with Job Centre Plus to deliver the Job Shop next to the Power Station, which has helped over 2,000 people into work since 2005
  19. Spending nearly £2,000,000 to deliver Adult and Community Learning to support over 10,000 adults to provide more skills and job-readiness courses
  20. Keeping the country’s lowest council tax, keeping more money in people’s pockets and in the local economy.

Of course, this doesn’t include the excellent work the council does on a daily basis providing top quality services for businesses, especially through initiatives like our Town Centre Managers.

I will not deny that I have tended towards pessimism on the economic situation – but it has always been tinged with an optimism that Wandsworth is well placed, and while it won’t totally avoid the ravages of recession it will hopefully avoid the worst.

You can read the Leader’s full report on the council’s website.

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