Cumbria Chamber of Commerce says it has been inundated with enquiries from businesses struggling to cope with the Coronavirus crisis.
More than 5,600 have used the Chamber’s Coronavirus toolkit – https://www.cumbriachamber.co.uk/news/27976-coronavirus-what-businesses-need-to-know – and other online resources.
Chief Executive Rob Johnston said: “To give an example, we‘ve had a record 4,500 podcast downloads this month with our Essential Coronavirus Podcast leading the way.
“There’s been a very positive response to our new Chamber Connect service, which matches people unable to work with employers that are looking to cover absenteeism. We’ve had a notable success in supplying drivers to a supermarket.”
The Chamber’s head office in Carlisle is closed but staff are working from home to deal with enquiries.
Rob added: “In many cases, businesses can use the toolkit to answer their questions – that’s what it’s designed to do.
“But we’re getting calls from businesses seeking clarification on whether they should be open or looking to understand the details of the Government’s loan and grant schemes.
“We’re also feeding information from our Coronavirus survey to help the British Chambers of Commerce lobby government.
“The British Chambers was pro-active in calling for help for the self-employed and pressing for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover employers’ National Insurance and pension contributions, as well as wages, which we now know it will.
“Currently, we’re in talking to the banks to get them to release cash under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme as quickly as possible.”
He continued: “Cumbria has had more than its fair shares of crises in recent years, from foot and mouth to floods, but we’ve never experienced anything on this scale.
“What I can say to businesses is that, however long it goes on, the Chamber will be here to help them through it.”