As the cost-of-living crisis continues to affect the UK and talks of a looming recession become more frequent, business owners are becoming concerned. A recent survey found that a quarter of small businesss expect to shrink this year and over 43 per cent identify a recession as their top concern.
Given the banks’ negative outlook on lending to small businesses and the economic situation changing consumer habits, they are being forced to find new ways to keep afloat, and so-called Meanwhile Spaces could be one solution.
Meanwhile spaces are temporary, flexible and creative uses of vacant buildings or land, providing a platform for social, cultural and economic activities and typically rented at a lower cost than standard rates. The Utilize Project currently manages and rents out properties of this type to over 80 firms, providing affordable and highly sought-after space to small businesses that cannot compete with London’s sky-high rental rates – which average at £39.54 per square foot.
The Project’s £1 per square foot pricing model typically includes rental of the space plus utilities such as electricity, water and gas, ensuring businesses can secure physical locations in prime areas, at a fraction of the usual costs.
The model provides an average saving of £38.54 per square foot on space rental alone and, with over half of businesses saying their energy costs have increased by over 20 per cent, another huge saving on utilities.
Founder Mahmud Shahnawaz said: “We have seen first-hand how high the demand for affordable spaces in London is and we expect to see this demand increase further, especially as day-to-day running costs continue to rise.”
“We work with many who are struggling more than ever to keep their businesses running and have seen how meanwhile spaces are becoming absolutely vital to their success. Without these affordable spaces, many would be forced to close their businesses as they’d simply have nowhere to go.”
Another possible aid is external finance. When it comes to sourcing this, two in five bosses do not know where to find information, and London has the highest percentage of businesses who say they would not know how to obtain this.