An Update From Louise Punter, CEO Surrey Chambers of Commerce
21st October 2021
Louise Punter-CEO Surrey Chambers of Commerce
There is no doubt it has been a difficult 18 months and as we keep being reminded it isn’t over yet, with infection rates still rising and businesses struggling to find the staff they need to meet the needs of their customers, as well as facing rising inflation. However, we celebrated the amazing achievements of the Surrey Chambers business community last week at our President’s Celebration Evening at the Guildford Harbour Hotel. At this event, we heard from our Chamber President, Steve Coburn, and reflected on the year gone and how resilient, determined, adaptable and outstanding the businesses of Surrey have been. At the Chamber we have seen first-hand the things our wonderful members have achieved, and we were delighted to be able to come together and celebrate. We raised an impressive £245 for our Charity, Sight for Surrey, through a charity raffle, which was supported with great prizes from our members.
Support for businesses
There is still a great deal of support available for businesses and we are very happy to signpost anyone to the various offerings. You can get practical, no-nonsense support from local business leaders and growth experts by joining one of the Growth Hub’s dedicated FREE support programmes. There are many different groups, so it is worth enquiring. Surrey Chambers is running a Start-up academy and our members also have access to a help line for any business-related questions.
For those struggling with recruitment it is worth looking at different sources of skills. Apprenticeship incentive grants have been extended and Kickstart is entering the final few months so anyone keen to offer a 6-month placement for a young person on Universal Credit should contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guildford City status
Surrey Chambers has written on behalf of the Business Community in Guildford and across the rest of Surrey in support of the bid for city status for Guildford. We have supported this idea on a number of occasions before, bearing in mind we have a Cathedral and a world-class university in Guildford as well as many creative and innovative businesses. Surrey is a massive contributor to UK plc, second only to London in it’s contribution to the Treasury via taxes. This success needs to be recognised and nurtured to ensure it’s continuation. We are a county that embraces innovation, it is a fantastic location to run a business, but we are also a great place to visit. We have suffered, like all areas, through the pandemic, but the opportunity to have a city within Surrey, would help get the economy back to where it was and develop it even further.
Surrey Chambers works with many Exporters and according to a recent survey they are reporting a number of issues. They cite the supply chain crisis, as well as Brexit related problems, as the main causes of difficulties with export sales. Some said that they had ceased exporting to the EU altogether due to issues such as red tape and delays at borders. Respondents also pointed to the surging cost of shipping as a serious issue, with one firm noting a single container from China rose in cost from £2100 in the previous year to £15000, as well as the shortage of lorry drivers as impacting export sales. We are urging the government to reintroduce SME Brexit Support Grants and use its export strategy, and the Spending Review, to provide stronger export finance. As always the Surrey Chambers Teamis here to offer advice to importers and exporters.