‘Whatever it takes…’

Mar 25, 2020

Vicky Hlomuka, SEMLEP’s Growth Hub manager.

…is a phrase you’ll get used to hearing. It’s right. We must all do whatever it takes.

On 17 March 2020, the Chancellor announced the second set of what we’re expecting to be a widespread suite of packages to support the livelihoods of millions of people across the country writes SEMLEP Growth Hub manager Vicky Hlomuka.

That economic package is a further £300 billion, made up of guaranteed loans or credit businesses can apply for to help finance supplies, salaries, rent and purchase stock. Mechanisms to access these loans – through the Bank of England for larger firms, or through an extension of the Business Interruption Loan for smaller businesses – are coming through.

Discussions are happening to find further appropriate support for sectors most affected by this crisis. These latest announcements include support for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses. This includes cash grants of up to £25,000 for businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 and, business rate holidays for all sizes of businesses in these sectors for 12 months. 

And, businesses eligible for small business rates relief – across all sectors – will be eligible for a cash grant value of up to £10,000.   

More is to be announced.

Micro-firms make up around 91% of our local business population and these businesses have specific concerns. Announcements on potential three-month holidays for mortgage payments is welcome. However, more must be done. 5% of businesses we’ve spoken to in the last couple of days alone are telling us directly that their business is at serious risk of immediate closure. We must do whatever it takes to support businesses through this storm.

What is your Local Enterprise Partnership doing for your business?

Direct support, information and advice: Business advisers in our Growth Hub service are on the front line, talking to business owners and directors about the critical areas of their business affected by COVID-19. There are some very practical things we can assist you with now on these matters.

  1. We have a toolkit to support business owners to focus in on the areas that matter most to the resilience of your business, produced for us by Grant Thornton.
  2. Our advisers are keeping track on the different finance and funding announcements, identifying who is eligible, who isn’t, how to apply and, what other options are. Whilst its clear details are still being worked up in some cases, we will keep you informed and connect you to the right people when these products are launched.
  3. We are working with specialists to create a COVID-19 business webinar series covering key themes for business continuity – coming live very soon.

Gathering and sharing intelligence: in such a fast-moving situation, it’s vital that we keep a close watch on the impact on, and responses of, the business community and wider support network. This informs what we do next. We are sharing information with government and local authorities to help direct resources towards the areas where business needs it most. Keep talking to us.

Coordination: As guardians of the local economy, we are fully behind the Government’s message ‘whatever it takes’.  In times of crisis, it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open. We are working with government, local authorities, universities, banks and other professional services to help coordinate action and use our experience to guide the mechanisms that need to be in place to get resources deployed swiftly to protect people’s livelihoods. We will do whatever it takes.

We have a business support line open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm: 0300 01234 35. If we don’t pick up immediately, leave a message and we will return your call. Alternatively, email us on growthhub@semlep.com. We are keeping our website updated with latest Government advice for business. www.semlepgrowthhub.com

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