A leading business organisation in Coventry and Warwickshire has had dealings with over 4,300 companies over the last nine months.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub’s SmartRegion report from October 2-November 2 secured information from the CWLEP’s business engagements and survey data, Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
Since March 1, staff at the CWLEP Growth Hub have supported 3,192 businesses and have had discussions with a further 1,147 related to the impact of Covid-19 which emphasises the growing demand for many types of business support, including help with employment issues.
The main topic for requested help was centred on access to finance which led to advice around marketing, business rates, and tax and legal issues.
Growth Hub advisers helped firms with applying for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loans as well as providing information on the grants available via Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council and the support available for the self-employed.
The top sectors supported by the Growth Hub since the beginning of October were evenly spread between manufacturing (14 per cent), arts, entertainment and recreation (14 per cent), other service activities (12 per cent) and administrative and support services (12 per cent).
During the same month, the majority of businesses seeking advice and information from the Growth Hub were micro businesses between two and nine employees (34 per cent), small businesses of 10-49 staff (34 per cent), sole traders (29 per cent) and medium-sized firms of 50-249 employees (three per cent).
Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the flow of businesses seeking support showed no signs of slowing down.
He said: “The latest data shows there was a slight increase in manufacturers seeking business support which could be attributed to the Tier based local restrictions influencing an already strained cash flow and supply chain.
“Information on tax, legal, skills and employment issues and the need for more general professional advice has clearly been growing with businesses recognising that they need to prepare either for redundancies or the additional administrative work required with the Government’s support schemes.
“The skills and employment support that has been requested not only points to the increasing need for HR advice and guidance around redundancy and recruitment, but also to retraining and upskilling staff.
“Advice and guidance are always a key requirement from businesses seeking support from the CWLEP Growth Hub, and there has been a noticeable small upward spike following the recent announcements from Government.
“The higher proportion of guidance requested from the arts, entertainment and recreational sector may be influenced by the delayed and uneven reopening of many businesses, the need for ERDF Specialist Grants, and the announcement of the second national lockdown in England that came into effect early this month.”
Craig said the results of these regularly compiled SmartRegion surveys were among the reasons why the CW Employment Solutions portal had been established.
The website at www.cwemploymentsolutions.co.uk connects employers and job seekers to a range of services as well as provides access to advice and support for businesses and individuals, and has been funded by the CWLEP in partnership with Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and the FSB.
Craig added: “With the Tier and lockdown restrictions, the period until December and into spring 2021 is likely to see increasing unemployment levels – with further rounds of redundancy figures expected as the new phase of furlough works through.
“That is why it is vital that we continue to promote the employment and skills related support available from the CW Employment Solutions portal to promote jobs in the area.”