This is in keeping with pre-Budget aims from the Government who are looking to profit out of their property estate. The Business Centre Association (BCA) has encouraged the sale of poorly performing Business Centres currently being managed by Local Authorities. It is thought that UK Serviced Offices will then be in a greater position to be able to support small and medium-sized organisations, as well as generating significant employment opportunities.
The BCA is launching its Flexible Space Voucher Scheme on the back of this, which allows small and medium-sized businesses to have access to BCA accredited workspace. This will be available for one year at no cost at all and for the following two years at a reduced cost. This funding will be generated between Serviced Office Providers and Local Authorities, as well as from the actual sale of Business Centres which were initially run by these Local Authorities.
The BCA will present this proposal to the Government in the early months of 2010 and the scheme is as far reaching as Belgium, France, Germany and Italy. The scheme is part of The European Confederation of Business Centre Associations, as well as being high on many MEP agendas.
Tom Stokes, former chair of the BCA who is head of the voucher scheme in the UK says “The sale of local authority assets will not only raise capital for the government but will take Business Centres out of public ownership into the private sector, removing the feeling of unfair competition and resulting in more private sector Business Centres being developed.”
The Executive Director of the BCA Jennifer Brooke suggests private Serviced Office Providers will benefit from the scheme. She comments: “Among other attributes, BCA members offer a higher level of ongoing workspace support, greater investment in services and new technology and generally create a more commercial working environment with fewer resultant business failures,” she says.
Brooke added that “The voucher scheme also provides a springboard from which start-ups can develop their business, encouraging in turn a strong entrepreneurial spirit within the UK economy”.
The problem seems to be the level of consistency throughout Business Centres being run by Local Authorities, but this BCA scheme would streamline industry standards.
Tom Stokes suggests an alternative towards helping the situation “Business support should be linked to the business and not the property, with the private sector providing the premises and the public sector, the support”.