Latest Updates From Surrey Chambers CEO – July 14th 2021
14th July 2021
Moving forward cautiously
There is no doubt that positivity is starting to creep back into our business conversations, and many are very happy to be opening up to more people. There is a danger, however, that some of the instructions and guidance is not as clear as it could be and that inconsistences are not helpful for people. With the initial announcement that the decision for wearing masks lies with the individual, followed by Transport for London saying it is compulsory on their transport, has not been helpful for restoring confidence in those returning to workplaces and physical meetings. Without clear guidance for businesses around the new proposals, there could be real uncertainty on how they should operate going forward and what they should be doing to keep staff and their customers safe. The Prime Minister has said he does not want to take any backward steps as we emerge from the pandemic and firms welcome this but our research shows that almost two in five businesses cite concerns about possible future lockdowns as a barrier to restarting or returning to pre-pandemic levels. This rises to 50% for business-to-consumer facing firms such as hospitality and retail. We know sectors such as hospitality, catering and events have been particularly badly hit. To give firms the confidence to fully reopen we are urging the government to set out contingency plans for any future virus response, the circumstances under which they would be used, and the support it would provide businesses impacted.
Highlight of this year
This week saw the graduation of the first cohort of our Start-up Academy, sponsored by Surrey Heath Borough Council and projectfive. Twelve pre-start and new businesses met for the first-time last September and attended 8 virtual sessions with 8 of our expert members to help them grow and develop their products and services. Meeting them all at the Login Business Lounge and seeing how they have become a close-knit group it was hard to imagine that they had never met in person before. Each of them had a story to tell about their journey but they were all in agreement that the Academy had had a massive impact on their success. Sectors covered included; fashion, education, finance, healthcare, IT and consultancy, but the sessions were relevant to all of them. We will be running our second cohort from September, which hopefully will run in person at the Login Business Lounge, allowing the attendees to stay on after their sessions and build their networks even further. We will be recruiting 20 businesses to this amazing opportunity so we would encourage anyone in the early days of their business to contact us.
Six months on from the end of the transition period and with the focus on economic recovery from the pandemic, it might seem to some that the issue of Brexit has faded into the background. But many businesses, and their customers, are still dealing with the reality of the significant changes ushered in on January 1. Many of our exporters have spent months grappling with the blizzard of new red tape and costs of getting goods to firms and people in the EU. Although the situation for outbound goods at GB ports has been better than the Government’s own reasonable worst-case scenarios, there is still inconsistency in the way customs rules are applied on arrival. Surrey Chambers is here to support businesses dealing with these challenges and we are keen to make sure that no-one is discouraged from doing business overseas. Our fantastic team are ready for questions.