I'll give London’s businesses the support and freedom they need to thrive

 
Zac Goldsmith
From black cabs to global banks, businesses are what make our city great (Source: Getty)

From tech startups to street markets, black cabs to global banks, London’s businesses are what make our city great. As mayor, I’ll make it my business to deliver for them.

Last week I launched my Action Plan for Greater London: more homes, better transport, cleaner air and safer streets. These are issues that matter to business. Unreliable trains hit our competitiveness. When our up and coming programmers are priced out by the cost of housing, we lose their skills.

In the next few weeks I’ll be setting out the detailed policy to deliver that plan. But more important than any one policy is the strong economy to pay for it all. That’s why today I’m launching my blueprint for London Business.

My first commitment to the capital’s job-creators is that I’ll work to secure you the best possible deal from government. At the local level, I’ll work with councils to create more affordable office space, to slash the red tape holding back broadband, and to ensure they do all they can to boost our struggling high streets.

From City Hall, I will make sure our underground stations and big new developments on mayoral land provide low cost spaces for startup businesses. I will deliver the Night Tube, which will provide an immediate boost to our booming night time economy. And I will use TfL’s 560km network of tunnels and railway verges to help deliver Broadband for London – a superfast broadband network for Londoners.

Nationally, I’ll work with central government to get the funding for major transport infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2.

And, to guide my approach on the most important issues, I’ll set up a Business Advisory Group, with members nominated by the business community itself.

Second, I’ll make it easier to start and grow a business. David Cameron’s government has been unambiguously pro-business, cutting corporation tax to the lowest level in the G20. I’ll take the same approach in City Hall. The historic devolution of business rates offers a huge opportunity for boroughs. As mayor, I’ll make sure these powers are used to attract new startups, then support them to scale up.

Third, I’ll make sure London businesses have the skills they need to grow. I’ll work with boroughs to find new sites for schools and ensure that developers build them. I’ll press for more government provision on childcare, so talented women don’t fall out of the workforce. And I’ll use the new devolved adult skills budget to close skills gaps in London’s cutting edge industries, backing emerging business clusters like MedCity around Euston and the creative industries around Kings Cross.

Fourth, because I know government doesn’t have all the answers, I’ll work hand-in-glove with business to solve the big challenges facing London. I’ll build on two of Boris’s most important legacies: his campaign to drive take-up of the London Living Wage, and his sterling efforts in crossing the globe banging the drum for London firms. I’ll launch a London Faster Payment campaign, where large companies will be encouraged to pledge to pay their smaller suppliers within nine days. And I will travel the world with British business – including scale-up firms.

As mayor, a key priority for me will be harnessing the ingenuity of our tech sector. To make this happen, I’ll follow New York and appoint a chief digital officer (CDO) – and put them in charge of a Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics. The London CDO will be responsible for turning London into a Smart City, where we use data-driven analysis to run our city, guiding better policy on everything from managing traffic flows to deciding on health priorities.

This strategy will include an annual £1m “Mayor’s Tech Challenge”. Each year I will set out some of the biggest challenges facing London, the data we have available on those challenges – and will invite businesses to come forward with innovative solutions. The next stage of the digital revolution is to disrupt the public sector.

My blueprint for business will ensure London’s firms have the support but also the freedom they need to innovate and thrive.

And there’s a real choice in this election.

Flying pickets, dividend bans, punitive taxes for the City, even talk of abolishing the City of London Corporation – that’s the agenda that Sadiq Khan’s radical supporters have signed up to. If Jeremy Corbyn and Khan take City Hall, they’ll get a four year trial run to test their ideas out. You don’t have to believe me. This week Ken Livingstone was clear that a vote for Khan is a vote for Corbynism. It’s why a Labour victory would be a disaster for London business. It would mean four years of chaos and infighting instead of the urgent action on tax, red tape and infrastructure that London business needs.

London is booming. But with a volatile global economy, we can’t take that success for granted. Only a Conservative mayor, working in partnership with a Conservative government, can guarantee the growth and stability that underpin our great world city.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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