Latest Updates From Surrey Chambers CEO – 24th March 2021
24th March 2021
As businesses prepare for a return to some kind of normality there is definitely a feeling of positivity, helped by the change of seasons and the spring sunshine. Despite a number of welcome announcements in the budget, there are still many businesses and individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been excluded from government support. Many will require help if they are to navigate the difficult few months ahead before the economy is able to fully reopen. In the latest unemployment figures a slight increase was recorded and there are signs that the UK jobs market is becoming more resilient. Extending furlough will limit the peak in job losses. However, with many firms struggling with the damage done to their cashflow by a year of covid restrictions, unemployment is likely to remain on an upward trajectory until well beyond a full reopening of the economy.
Helping unemployed young people
The uptake of Kickstart placements, offering 6-month placements to young people (16-24) in Surrey has been really uplifting. The government pays their salary for 6 months, the young person gets much needed work experience and the Employer gets an extra pair of hands, keen to learn. We have had over 60 matches now and already some are talking about creating ongoing jobs. In a county where we are not used to high levels of unemployment, hopefully this scheme will help to keep numbers down.
One year on
We have now passed the milestone of working from home for one year! We have had to adjust to this change, amending our daily routines and rising to the challenges of working in a different environment without our colleagues. Along with these changes, comes a shift in priorities, in particular prioritising our health and wellbeing throughout everything happening in this challenging world! We are dedicating the last week of April to focus on our wellbeing and to express the importance of being kind to ourselves – we have, after all just experienced 12 months of a global pandemic and deserve to take time out of our busy schedules to thank and look after our body for being there for us. We will have a number of events taking place that week, details of which are on our website.
Businesses still grappling with EU Transition
Some businesses are still grappling with the changes in trading with the EU. Surrey Chambers has helped over 500 businesses to trade thanks to EnterpriseM3 and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnerships. In addition to our support and advice, the £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) as they adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU has now been opened for application. SMEs who have only ever traded with the EU and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes will be encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000 for each trader to pay for practical support including training and professional advice to ensure they can continue trading effectively with the EU.
Louise Punter, CEO