LEP counts cost of Covid to county business

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published a new report calculating the affect on businesses of a year living with Covid-19 and outlining how a Greater Lancashire Plan could spearhead recovery.

Headline figures in the 2020-21 annual report include:

  • A reduction in hours worked from 1,000m to 842m between April 2020 and June 2020
  • An increase in unemployment benefit claims from 3.7 per cent to 6.9 per cent from March 2020 to May 2020
  • More than 100,000 workers supported by the furlough scheme at the start of the pandemic, with around 85,000 still furloughed as of March 2021
  • A decrease in apprenticeship starts of 21 per cent compared to the previous financial year

However, the report does also praise the county's resilience and outlines its roadmap to recovery.

According to Companies House, 14,000 new businesses were registered in Lancashire between 1st April 2020 and 31st March 2021, an increase of 17.1 per cent over the previous year. Boost, Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub which, saw a 100 per cent increase in enquiries, and a 50 per cent increase in website traffic, during the height of the pandemic. 

The report also outlines how business-led Sector Groups supported the key industries most severely affected by the pandemic, including aerospace, tourism, and hospitality. Other Covid-specific responses included £34m secured from the Getting Building Fund to help bring ten major projects forward to create new jobs, homes and infrastructure.

The LEP details the Strategic Economic Framework which is being developed for the county. This will include a Social Value Charter, an Internationalisation Strategy, industry-specific Sector Recovery Plans, and a Local Industrial Strategy.

Other priority areas, such as skills and employment, stakeholder engagement, innovation, and business finance, will be addressed.

The LEP’s new Strategic Economic Framework will also help to inform the Greater Lancashire Plan (GLP), an initiative being led by local government. The GLP is Lancashire’s overarching vision for the county built on “inclusive growth, healthy communities and a cleaner world” which will be delivered through “a place-shaping strategy of public sector reform, economic growth and environmental sustainability”.

Sarah Kemp, chief executive of the LEP, said: "Like many other parts of the country, Lancashire has been hit hard by the pandemic and this report doesn’t shy away from its impact and the challenges we face as we look to recover.

"However, it also demonstrates that many of our businesses have been incredibly resilient and innovative during this difficult period, and that Lancashire’s entrepreneurial spirit has spurred on many individuals to start their own ventures.

"This, combined with the effective grass-roots business support provided by agencies like Boost, and the strategic interventions being driven by our new Sector Groups, and other LEP initiatives, means we are already stimulating new economic growth as we emerge from the grip of Covid.”

A copy of the LEP’s 2020-21 Annual Report can be downloaded from www.lancashirelep.co.uk

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