Business leaders from across the Northern Powerhouse outlined the impact of COVID-19 on their individual economies and on the North as a whole, directly to government ministers, in the first of a series of virtual regional roundtables that kicked off, recently.
The first event with the Chairs of the eleven Northern Powerhouse Local Enterprise Partnerships (NP11), including Lord Inglewood, Chair of the Cumbria LEP, virtually met with the Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi MP and the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP.
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 Local Enterprise Partnerships 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 invited to Friday’s event were SMEs and include a wide range of sectors including those facing some of the biggest challenges in tourism, leisure, hospitality, education, and health industries. Further regional business roundtables are scheduled for the coming weeks.
Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP: “It was very helpful to have a discussion with businesses and our LEPs across the Northern Powerhouse.
“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 expedite 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 Cumbria LEP, Lord Inglewood, said: “This was the first of several Ministerial roundtables talking directly to our businesses here in Cumbria about the type and scale of the impacts that they are experiencing as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. I was pleased that Nigel Wilkinson of Windermere Lake Cruises and Chair of CLEP’s Visitor Economy Sector Panel and Barry Leahey, MBE, Managing Director of Playdale Playgrounds Ltd attended and were able to represent the interests of their sectors.”
“The business roundtable provided an important opportunity to listen to the concerns of local businesses about COVID-19 support, and how they can help implement the phases of economic recovery in a safe manner across the county.
“This first session saw businesses feedback valuable information and insight that is helping Government target ongoing support, particularly around the essential need for cash-flow and tailored business support going forward.
“The recovery strategy published by the Prime Minister is a framework to help get the UK back to work in a way that is safe for everyone, and it’s vitally important that business is at the heart of that plan as we re-open sectors of the economy.”
Chair of the NP11, and Vice Chair of the LEP Network, Roger Marsh OBE DL, said: “The country’s network of LEPs have been working tirelessly with the Government and regional partners to accelerate new business support mechanisms and unlock further funding where possible. Today’s business roundtable with LEPs provides a crucial platform to enable local businesses to engage with Government to encourage support for rebalancing the economy. The LEPs play a vital role in delivering strong local economies and have a deep understanding of unique challenges and opportunities in the North, and this roundtable is part of an ongoing dialogue with Government, which at present is more important than ever.
“Our attention is now increasingly focused on planning for a strong economic recovery. Having the ear of Government and ongoing insight from the North’s business community is vital at this time, to help ensure that we can play to our strengths and work collaboratively to create new opportunities while rebuilding the Northern economy.”
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 BEIS Ministers are an invaluable barometer of how businesses are really doing away from the headlines.
“Our national recovery is rooted in local recovery – that’s why these roundtables are so important, and LEPs forensic understanding of their local economies is a lynchpin in the vital recovery planning now underway across the country.”