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Statement from GBSLEP Chair, Tim Pile on the COVID-19 outbreak

As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to accelerate, we know that businesses, their employees and the self-employed are already being severely affected during these difficult and unique circumstances.  We welcome the support measures being put in place by the Chancellor but are clear that there is still more that needs to be done. We are acutely aware that many of our key industries need more support quickly. GBSLEP is participating in regional taskforces ensuring that the individual needs of those industries are being heard, and that we act with a collective voice.

We, along with many other partners, are urging Government to act quickly and decisively in their support to small businesses and the self-employed, in particular, so that monies can urgently flow to those that need it the most. Delivering these funds at pace will be critical to keeping our businesses robust in the immediate and longer term.

Collaboration between organisations offering support is going to be absolutely essential to support businesses and residents through this challenging time. As a partnership of the private, public and education sectors, GBSLEP, like other LEPs around the country, is working extensively with partners to share information and gather intelligence on local impact to relay businesses concerns directly with government.

We are already expanding support services through our Growth Hub, diverting more of our resources to ensuring businesses are able to readily access the business advice they need. Our Growth Hub advisors are available on the telephone to talk to businesses directly via our helpline and our website will be continuously updated with the latest updates.

Our focus is on providing and coordinating as much support as we can; we have set-up a Coronavirus resources page with the latest advice and guidance, as well as signposting to the services available from partners across the business support network.

Many of our partners across the region are providing excellent leadership and guidance; the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce resource page can be found here, the CBI have launched a Coronavirus Hub, the FSB are continually updating their advice here, and the IoD are collating advice for Directors, to name just a few organisations. Our Local Authority partners too are working closely with government to administer support locally, including applying business rates relief and small business grants. If you are an eligible business, your Local Authority will then be in touch in the coming weeks to provide details of how to access this money.

It’s been heartening to see how organisations across the Greater Birmingham and Solihull region, and indeed the wider West Midlands, have already pulled together to support each other through this crisis, sharing and combining their various expertise in a time of need. We must continue to do so.

Any business who can help with the supply of ventilators or ventilator components should visit the Government’s dedicated webpage or email ventilator.support@beis.gov.uk.  I also call upon our Life Sciences sector, if you can help to increase the supply of antigen testing kits for Covid-19 you should email covidtestingtriage@dhsc.gov.uk

The West Midlands economy has strong foundations to remain resilient, but it is vital that support continues to come and that is available to access immediately. We must continue to work together to ensure the needs of our businesses and residents are being met in way that enables them bounce back quickly.

Any business who is concerned can in the first instance visit https://www.gbslepgrowthhub.co.uk/business-advice/coronavirus, email info@gbslepgrowthhub.co.uk or call 0800 032 3488– we can help you stay informed.