Brick Lane businesses struggling with high rents and rates
- Credit: Archant
“We’re killing ourselves to earn a living.”
That was the message about the cost of doing trade that independent small business owners sent city hall chiefs visiting Brick Lane and Bethnal Green today (June 19).
Matthew Kim, owner of the Holy Shot coffee shop in Bethnal Green Road, said: “It’s unjustified how expensive rents are. It seems as if big companies come in and rents double.”
He called for more support for small business owners pointing out four neighbouring shops in the street lying empty after businesses folded.
Steve Dobkin of Bacon Street Salvage shocked the London Assembly members when he revealed his business’s rent had skyrocketed from £15,000 a year 20 years ago to £107,000 today.
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Philip Pittack of textiles firm Crescent Trading in Quaker Street said: “Nobody wants to help us because we’re too small. We are working twice as hard as we did two years ago just to stand still.
“We’re not destitute, but we’re killing ourselves to earn a living.”
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Every trader called for a business rate reduction and support over rent to help them survive.
City hall’s economy committee chairman Susan Hall described it as a sad situation getting worse with rents continuing to rise.
Green AM Caroline Russell argued businesses needed protecting from developers who close roads and pavements during building work – hitting traders’ profits.
The hour-long walkabout was organised by small business group the East End Trades Guild which represents 90 shops, 32 eateries, eight markets and 93 services firms.
The Guild is also involved with campaign group Guardians of the Arches battling to stop the sale of Network Rail arches that are home to many small businesses.
It is calling for affordable work spaces and a London working rent along the lines of the London living rent which lowers the price of renting a home for some earners.
Director Krissie Nicholson said high rent was the most important issue facing 300 small business owners the Guild spoke to.
“It’s important we take action on this because small scale businesses are essential to the life of the community. It’s an urgent problem,” she said.
The city hall chiefs were surveying small business owners to find out how to support them.