Want to know how your business can get government financial support? Everything you need to know...

SEMLEP's Growth Hub launches advice service for businesses across the region

Businesses buckling under the impact of the coronavirus crisis are being urged to seek advice from the region’s Growth Hub on how to get financial and other support.

Advisers at the unit are working flat out to help business understand who is eligible for government assistance, who is not, and how to apply.

To help get businesses the right information swiftly, the hub - run by local enterprise partnership SEMLEP - has gathered all the official advice from the government together in one place at www.semlepgrowthhub.com.

Vicky Hlomuka says everyone must do all that it takes to tackle coronavirus

Click on the dark green strip at the top of the home page titled: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Official guidance and support for businesses.

Alternatively, you can call the free dedicated support line on 0300 01234 35 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).

Or send an email to [email protected]

“We are providing this support to help businesses make sense of the situation,” said SEMLEP Growth Hub manager Vicky Hlomuka. “It is our responsibility to signpost accurate information.

“Following the Chancellor’s announcements loans and grants will be available from several providers and our entire team is currently on the front line advising business owners and directors about what they are.

“We must all do whatever it takes to get through this.”

She added: “There are some very practical things we can assist with now on these matters.

“We have a toolkit to support business owners to focus on the areas that matter most to the resilience of their business. This has been produced for us by Grant Thornton.

“Our advisers are keeping track of the different finance and funding announcements, identifying who is eligible, who isn’t, how to apply, and what other options are. While it is clear details are still being worked up in some cases, we will keep you informed and connect you to the right people when these products are launched.

“We are working with specialists to create a COVID-19 business webinar series covering key themes for business continuity – it will be coming live very soon.

“We are also gathering and sharing intelligence. In such a fast-moving situation, it’s vital that we keep a close watch on the impact on, and responses of, the business community and wider support network.

“This informs what we do next. We are sharing information with government and local authorities to help direct resources towards the areas where business needs it most. Keep talking to us.”

Discussions are taking place to find further appropriate support for sectors most affected by this crisis. The latest announcements include support for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses. This includes cash grants of up to £25,000 for businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 and business rate holidays for all sizes of businesses in these sectors for 12 months.

Businesses eligible for small business rates relief – across all sectors - will be able to apply for a cash grant value of up to £10,000. More is to be announced.

Vicky Hlomuka added: “Micro-firms make up around 91 per cent of our local business population and these businesses have specific concerns. Announcements on potential three-month holidays for mortgage payments is welcome.

“However, more must be done. Five per cent of businesses SEMLEP has spoken to in the last couple of days alone are saying their business is at serious risk of immediate closure. “We must do whatever it takes to support businesses through this storm.

“As guardians of the local economy, we are fully behind the government’s message ‘whatever it takes’.

“In times of crisis, it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open. We are working with government, local authorities, universities, banks and other professional services to coordinate action and use our experience to guide the mechanisms that need to be in place to get resources deployed swiftly to protect people’s livelihoods.

“We will do whatever it takes.”