Marches LEP takes the temperature of business 12 months on

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Businesses in the Marches are being re-polled for their views on the economic and business support measures put in place during the pandemic as the region prepares for recovery.

Last year the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership conducted the region’s biggest ever survey as the full impact of the first lockdown hit businesses. In October, it’s Economic Recovery Summit polled businesses again, highlighting a range of priorities for rebuilding the region’s economy and helping its business community get back on its feet from the impact of the virus.

Now the LEP is asking the same questions which featured in the summit poll as part of its ongoing recovery planning, working with its local authority partners in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

The summit – the culmination of the LEP’s Business Recovery Week – brought together nearly 100 members of the business community and leading local and regional partners, including local authorities, business board representatives, both Shropshire and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chambers of Commerce, the British Business Bank, The Federation of Small Businesses and NFU.

Marches LEP chief executive Gill Hamer said a draft recovery plan was well underway, but the organisation was keen to ensure the final blueprint reflected the up-to-date situation.

“Last year, 38 per cent of businesses did not expect to make redundancies in the next 12 months even though 45 per cent were broadly or very pessimistic about the health of the regional economy. We’d like to know what those figures are like now, six months on.

“Then, 31 per cent did not think the Government’s new Job Support Scheme would be effective. Of course, since then we’ve had a further lockdown and the furlough scheme has been extended.

“We’re also re-polling for their views on innovation and use of new technology, on e-commerce and financial grant support.

“Our original survey at the start of the pandemic was the most successful we have ever staged and gave us a wealth of really important evidence about the impact of the first stages of the pandemic on the ground.

“We are now gathering new data about how businesses across our region have fared during the last 12 months and what they regard as the priorities for the future. This evidence will also strengthen our case to Government for targeted support and funding for the Marches.”

The confidential poll asks a number of questions about the impact coronavirus has had, how helpful the Government’s response to date has been and what is needed to help the region recover from the impact in the coming weeks and months.

The recovery plan itself will map out both immediate and longer term actions the LEP and its partners will take to stimulate the region’s economy as it emerges from lockdown.

The LEP – the business-led partnership responsible for driving the region’s economy – has pledged to maximise all available funding and delivery flexibilities to direct investment and activities towards recovery.

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