New Awards recognise Local Authorities across England – closing date soon!
A key part of our work at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is building bridges between local government and the small business community. We listen, collaborate and guide to ensure that our communities are set up to survive. Councils play a huge role in making that happen at a local level, which is why we have launched our inaugural Local Government Awards. The ceremony is set to take place virtually on Friday 14th October 2022, 11am-1pm.
We are delighted to be sponsored by Maybe*, who work with UK Government and many local authorities across England to help thousands of small businesses get more from social media.
FSB has successfully run local awards ceremonies for local authorities across England for over ten years – you may have attended one of those yourselves. From these awards, we consistently get positive feedback: local authorities report finding it a valued opportunity to make useful links with small business colleagues, optimise the opportunity to showcase vital projects, and enjoy celebrating and sharing best practice with other local authorities.
This year we are building on those successes and are extending the invitation to councils across England for a unified national awards ceremony.
Local government plays a critical role in powering a thriving small business community. It undertakes planning strategies that build the infrastructure of a healthy business environment, offers business support programmes to deliver targeted support, and signposts and delivers grants to help small business grow. Thriving communities are built on thriving business communities. For every £1 spent in a small business, around 63p is invested back into the local economy. They also play a vital role in job creation – the small business community is a bigger employer than the NHS, the UK’s single biggest employer.
When COVID-19 struck, FSB worked closer than ever with local authorities to make sure that small businesses and sole traders were supported to survive – opening up access to government grants distributed via local authorities and using FSB networks to ensure business engagement and support was aimed at those who needed it most. Together, we worked day and night to help those in the small business community – from sole traders to new entrepreneurs to multi-generational businesses – to survive against the odds. We know how important that work was, and we also know that the hard work doesn’t stop here. With any crisis will come long-term and widespread ramifications.
With the current cost-of-living crisis comes a cost-of-doing-business crisis. Increases in taxes, supplies, wages, and energy costs have meant that outgoings have spiralled. Yet, with many people struggling to make ends meet, disposable income has gone down. And with it, the income of many small businesses. On top of this, many small businesses still have not reached full trading capacity following COVID.
At FSB, in addition to our national lobbying and advocacy to address these issues, we recognise and value the role of local government. Ensuring small businesses are best supported to weather current storms, working jointly to maximise upcoming opportunities for business growth, and encouraging focus through a small business lens on local plans and projects – these are just some of the many ways local authorities can help small business communities. As members of the Institute of Economic Development (IED), we work with local government Economic Development Officers and similar roles to provide effective small business engagement and solutions to the big issues.
There has never been a more important and pivotal time for local government and small business to work together, across England. And, as with COVID, identifying and sharing that best practice is increasingly important – from getting devolution deals right to making the most of levelling up funding, to addressing the even bigger issues such as the journey to net zero. We witness great initiatives, projects and people every day in local government across England, going above and beyond to support those who branch out as entrepreneurs.
That is why FSB is running our first-ever Local Government Awards to celebrate and showcase the work to support local small businesses and, by extension, local communities too. FSB will always be there to support small businesses, and we know that you will be too.
There are four categories in the FSB Local Government Awards (England):
We welcome nominations covering the period between March 2020 and April 2022. We are particularly interested in your future-ready nominations, as we want to work together to horizon-scan and plan for the future. Examples of entries that could go into this category include elements of your council plans, recovery plans, net zero work, any work to address skills gaps, and supporting young people in business.
We are making entering as easy and as simple as possible. Entries are based on a 500-word self-nomination, and there is no limit on the number of entries you can submit. You can apply here (deadline 12pm on Friday 9th September 2022). We would also love IED members to join us at the online awards ceremony next month.
So, you can either find out more information from your local FSB Development Manager or check out our brand-new local government hub at www.fsb.org.uk/localgovernment. You can also drop me an email at Lucy.Seymour-Smith@fsb.org.uk.
Lucy Seymour-Smith is Regional Policy Manager (England) at the Federation of Small Businesses, a member of the IED.