Local business leaders from across the country put their views to government ministers on how they are implementing the safe return to work and helping build the recovery in a series of virtual roundtables led by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
Marches LEP Chair, Mandy Thorn MBE DL and Paul Bennett, Chair of the Shropshire Business Board took part in roundtables including business chiefs from the following economic areas: the Western Gateway and Great South West, Northern Powerhouse, Oxford Cambridge Arc, Buckinghamshire, and New Anglia, the Midlands, and the Southern Region.
The events saw employers put their questions direct to the Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP, and the Minister for Small Business, Paul Scully MP.
The Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi MP, said: “The Government is providing record levels of support to businesses to cushion the impact of this pandemic, and we are committed to helping the UK get back to work in a safe and secure manner.
“These roundtables with LEPs provide a vital opportunity to safeguard regional growth, listen to the concerns of local businesses about COVID-19, and discuss how we can implement the phases of the recovery in every corner of the UK.”
Many of the businesses are SMEs with employers from a wide range of sectors including those facing some of the biggest economic challenges in the areas of tourism, leisure, hospitality, education, and health industries. A range of issues were discussed including COVID-19 support, the challenges faced by retail and hospitality industry, devolution, continued investment in skills and local transport networks, role of ports, tv and film production, rural economies, the role of digital technology, and capitalising on some of the environmental benefits of lockdown such as low carbon industries.
Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP, said: “The coronavirus pandemic will leave a lasting impact on all our regions. We are going to overcome these challenges and it is fundamental that we understand local concerns so that we can help our regions expediate the restart of their economies. Our determination to level up the country is only reinforced by the scale of the challenge we now confront.”
Chair of the LEP Network, Mark Bretton, said: “The value that local businesses will play in the next phase of recovery and rebuilding the local economy is critical. These LEP virtual roundtables with Ministers are an invaluable barometer of how businesses are really doing away from the headlines, and help us understand how employers are implementing the return to work guidelines.”
“Our national recovery is rooted in local recovery and a safe return to work – that’s why these roundtables are so important, and LEPs forensic understanding of their local economies will be a key element in the vital recovery planning now underway across the country.”