Proposed Voucher Scheme Will Remove Financial Burden From Public Sector
Monday, 23 November 2009
The Business Centre Association (BCA) has launched a campaign to gain Government support for a self funding voucher scheme that will allow accredited new companies access to free business accommodation for their first year of occupation.
The Flexible Space Voucher Scheme will provide SME's with a voucher, which will entitle them to receive office or workspace space for an initial one year period at no cost. The vouchers would be redeemable at over 850 BCA member locations.
Further vouchers could then be issued over a two-to-three year period, allowing SME's to continue working in their flexible space at a reduced rate.
The BCA believes that the introduction of flexible space vouchers will stimulate the creation of new enterprises and also remove the burden from the public sector to develop additional business centres to meet demand.
To minimise the impact to the taxpayer, the funding of the Voucher Scheme could be achieved by local authorities submitting their workspace locations for sale to the private sector, allowing the surplus funds generated to finance the scheme.
Alternatively, local authority workspaces could enter into a 'profit share' management agreement with a private sector operator, with the profits generated utilised to fund the Scheme.
Jennifer Brooke, executive director at the BCA comments: "The future prosperity of the UK economy lies with SME's. Entrepreneurs continue to show resilience particularly in these recessionary times.
"It is imperative that the Government continues to support new businesses by ensuring access to affordable and quality flexible space. However, it is increasingly challenging for Local Authorities to seek the required funding to maintain the necessary developments of its own centres.
"The proposed BCA Flexible Space Voucher Scheme offers an alternative solution, while still facilitating the public sector to support the burgeoning SME market."
Records from the Office of National Statistics highlight that there are over 4.7m SME's in the UK*, with 95 per cent of these enterprises employing less than 10 people.
With the majority of these businesses unable to afford their own business premises, the flexible space sector is the viable option.
At present, there are approximately 300 local authority locations that offer workspace, but with the recent increase in the number of SME's, local authorities are increasingly struggling to keep up with demand.
The BCA Flexible Space Voucher Scheme would take this burden away from the Government, by allowing SME's to be located in privately owned, affordable space.
Tom Stokes, past chair of the BCA and managing director of Evans Easyspace, argues: "The proposed BCA Flexible Space Voucher Scheme will support economic growth at both a local and national level, as well as the creation of job opportunites.
"Our proposal, which we intend to present to the Government shortly, will support the public sector, new enterprises and the flexible space market whilst also minimising the impact to the taxpayer.
"As the vouchers will only be redeemable in BCA member locations, the SME's who sign up to the scheme are guaranteed that the accommodation they use will adhere to the recommended industry standards, as all service providers adhere to the BCA code of conduct. "
- Ends -
* Based on figures from 2007
Notes to Editor:
The BCA is the only UK trade association representing the business centre and managed workspace industry. Established in 1989, it specialises in providing support and guidance to owners and operators of centres, while setting industry standards and encouraging a network of excellence.
The BCA also provides an invaluable advice and location finder service for potential users of business centres and managed workspace with more than 850 member locations and 500,000 workstations, incorporating 40m sq ft of managed office space around the UK, ranging from small independent to large international operators, both in city centre and out of town business park locations, the Association is guaranteed to find the perfect workspace for your business.