Marches LEP vows to help lead business recovery from coronavirus
The leader of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership today vowed to do everything possible to ensure the region receives all the support it needs to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
Marches LEP chair Mandy Thorn says the partnership – the business-led body charged with delivering economic growth across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin – will work tirelessly to help businesses get safely back on their feet as lockdown restrictions are eased.
Her comments came as the final results of a major survey into the impact of coronavirus on the region’s businesses – completed by more than 500 separate enterprises – were revealed.
• 98% of businesses have been affected by the outbreak.
• 51.4% are not eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief and therefore not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund.
• 44.3% have applied for/taken advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff.
• 35% have applied for/taken advantage of the £10,000 cash grant scheme for small businesses.
• 12% have applied for/taken advantage of the Coronavirus Business Interruption loans Scheme.
• 44% have suffered a complete loss of sales.
• 25.5% say cashflow is their greatest challenge, whilst 15% say it is falling sales.
• 72% say financial support and advice would be the most helpful response for their business.
The survey – which ran throughout April – has proved to be the most responded-to in the LEP’s history.
Mrs Thorn said: “Many businesses took the time to tell us their own personal stories about how Covid-19 has affected them. These were often heartbreaking to read. Well-run, successful businesses have seen their very existence put in doubt through absolutely no fault of their own.
“And it is clear that despite everything the Government has done to help, there are still huge numbers of successful businesses which are falling through the cracks of this support and desperately need our help to recover.
“I can assure them that the LEP will be doing everything in its power to lobby Government on their behalf to ensure this fantastic region gets every bit of support it deserves and that the help is available when it is needed and on terms which reflect the huge impact coronavirus has had on company finances.
“The LEP is already working through our Marches Growth Hub and with business support experts to make the existing financial support, expertise and recovery advice available and we will continue to develop a strategic plan for recovery which will ensure existing businesses are supported and new businesses can be launched and prosper.
“To that end, we will continue to work with all our partners – such as the Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford Business Boards and other business support organisations including the FSB and Chambers of Commerce – towards recovery.
“Our survey has given us a powerful body of evidence on which to help shape the region’s recovery and we are tremendously grateful to all those who took the time to take part.”