RECOVERY RESTART PLAN LAUNCHED TO BOOST ECONOMY AFTER COVID-19

The Norfolk & Suffolk Economic Recovery Restart Plan
New Anglia LEP has been at the forefront of the region’s efforts to combat the economic effect of COVID-19 and an ambitious plan to get the economy of Norfolk and Suffolk back on its feet in the wake of the pandemic has been launched. 

Published in Norfolk and Suffolk Director Magazines Summer/Autumn 2020

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It contains an unprecedented package of measures to be delivered by partners locally and nationally to get businesses up and trading again, restore business, consumer and community confidence, and support those who do lose their jobs.

The pandemic has brought the economy to a standstill, with thousands of businesses unable to operate and almost 200,000 workers in the two counties placed on furlough. Now following the easing from lockdown, a series of interventions are needed to help businesses and individuals hit by the economic impact of the virus. 

The Norfolk & Suffolk Economic Recovery Restart Plan will complement plans being developed at county and district levels and feed into the Government’s national recovery plan. It will be critically important, as research by New Anglia LEP has shown that in a worst-case scenario, unemployment in Norfolk and Suffolk could hit 200,000 before the end of the year.

Measures which underpin the plan of action include: 

• Advice and finance for businesses: 

Ensuring every business has access to the finance and support they need, delivered through a new alliance of local authorities, New Anglia Growth Hub, business representative organisations and trade bodies. 

• Digitisation: 

A major campaign to support businesses in developing their online presence and improving productivity and flexible working through better use of technology. 

• Responding to redundancies: 

A support programme delivered through a new local partnership of businesses and local and national agencies, to help both those made redundant and companies looking for workers. 

• Supply chain: 

The development of a supply chain matching service helping local companies capitalise on opportunities to sell more goods and services locally. 

• Transforming skills: 

Rolling out a series of programmes to ensure every individual has the chance to reskill and upskill. 

• Visitor economy: 

A proactive campaign promoting the area as a destination, and supporting businesses in the tourism, hospitality, and cultural sectors as they reopen. 

• Infrastructure: 

Supporting the construction sector through continued investment in key infrastructure and making the case to Government for accelerated funding for major projects. 

It has been a team effort

More than 100 different organisations and groups and almost 700 individuals contributed to the LEP’s draft plan after it was shared with local authorities, education providers, industry and sector groups, MPs, and other stakeholders. The plan also has the endorsement of the Chambers of Commerce in Norfolk and Suffolk and the Federation of Small Businesses

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Doug Field, Chair of the LEP, said: “Getting the economy back on its feet will not be achieved by one partner alone or by one strand of investment or actions. The economy is most successful when we work together for the benefit of the people who live, learn and work in Norfolk and Suffolk.”

“One size will not fit all, and the plan will need to reflect local circumstances and priorities in different areas. We also need to be agile in our approach, so we can switch from recovery to response mode in the event of further lockdowns, or to respond to potential issues caused by the ending of government support packages.” 

Plans for the next year

The Restart phase of the Recovery Plan will cover the immediate 12 months as public spaces and premises are reopened amid social distancing and other public safety guidelines. This will be a ‘live plan’ which is regularly updated to reflect changing circumstances and the latest business intelligence. 

It will look at how specific sectors such as tourism, energy and agri-food have been impacted by the pandemic and the skills and employment interventions that are required due to changes to the labour market. 

Looking ahead

In 2021, the Restart Plan will be replaced by a plan to renew the economy, which builds on the Economic Strategy and Local Industrial Strategy and responds to long-term changes brought about by COVID-19. 

Councillor Andrew Proctor, Chair of the Norfolk Public Sector Leaders Group, said: “The last few months have been very hard on local businesses and the LEP’s plan, as the umbrella plan for the County Council and District Councils in Norfolk, is the start of decisive action to get our economy back on its feet. 

“Taking this forward is now all about the public and private sectors working together so we can restart and renew our county’s economy and support all our businesses that are its backbone.” 

Cllr Matthew Hicks, Chair of the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders Group, said “I know the impact of the pandemic has been felt across every sector and every industry in Suffolk. While the response from the Government has been unprecedented, undoubtedly saving tens of thousands of jobs, now is the time for us to come together and lead our region into recovery and beyond. 

“I am determined that this pandemic will not hold Suffolk back from re-imagining and achieving our shared future prosperity based on clean, inclusive economic growth. Working together we must recover what has been lost and use this opportunity to build better ways of working and living across the East.” 

To read the full Norfolk & Suffolk COVID-19 Economic Recovery Restart Plan and evidence base, visit: newanglia.co.uk/covid-economic-recovery/

PPE database to help businesses reopen safely

Businesses needing masks, sanitiser, and personal protective equipment (PPE) can use an online database set up by the LEP. 

A simplified directory was set up in March and this has played a key role in the supply of PPE to frontline workers in the health and social care sector. On the back of that success, and thanks to the production and supply of equipment by local companies, the LEP expanded the service. 

Items from face masks, visors and aprons, to sanitiser and other return to work equipment are being regularly added to the database by suppliers, many who are based in Norfolk and Suffolk. 

Organisations based in Norfolk and Suffolk can log in at newanglia.co.uk/supply-chain/ and access the database after a short verification process.

Vacancies in key sectors promoted via web platform 

Job vacancies in healthcare, food production and other sectors are being promoted by the LEP to help employers find the staff they need to continue operating. 

Labour demand in food production, food supply, supermarket retail, transport and delivery services has been outstripping current supply and vacancies are being advertised via the LEP’s website to keep these essential services running. 

Companies facing the most pressing challenges are being identified and the LEP is working closely with them to assess the support they require. Details of redeployment opportunities in Norfolk and Suffolk and beyond are being collated and signposting provided for interventions such as benefits, training, and mental health support. 

The list of current vacancies can be found at newanglia.co.uk/employment-opportunities. 

To speak to the LEP about your staffing issues, please contact Natasha Waller on T: 07384 253355 or E: natasha.waller@newanglia.co.uk

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Grants help businesses combat covid-19 

Businesses from a diverse range of sectors are benefiting from a scheme introduced by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The £3.5m Business Resilience and Recovery Scheme is part of a £10m package of measures available from the LEP to support businesses and economic growth and funds the support of short-term business resilience, and longer-term recovery and diversification projects. 

Maximum grant intervention through the programme will be up to 50% of eligible capital costs up to a maximum of £50,000. To be awarded the minimum of £25,000, total capital project costs of at least £50,000 must be evidenced. 

Typical projects which would be supported include: 

• Production of items to tackle the Coronavirus outbreak 

• Coronavirus-related research and development 

• Development of new technology or innovation and productivity improvements • Short-term manufacturing diversification 

• Longer-term development for future recovery and diversification 

• Identification and mobilisation into new markets 

An international touring theatre company based in Norwich is among the companies that has received a grant. Curious Directive’s shows explore life through the lens of science and have been performed in more than 100 venues across the world. The company is in the process of transforming a medieval church on Elm Hill in Norwich into a sanctuary, laboratory, and engine room for creating ground-breaking theatre projects. These developments will bring all its activities under one roof, including The Nave and a coworking space for creative freelances. 

Meanwhile, a climbing centre in Ipswich is investing in new walls and equipment, so it can help maintain social distancing after being awarded a grant. Clip ‘n’ Climb had only been open for nine months when the pandemic struck, but thanks to the scheme, it is re-establishing itself as the largest centre of its kind in the world and will be offering 46 climbing lines when it reopens. 

To find out if your project may be eligible, visit: newanglia.co.uk/grant/business-resilience-and-recovery-scheme/ or call New Anglia Growth Hub on 0300 333 6536.

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Pledges made to combat impact of covid-19 on employment

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A package of measures is to be put into effect in Norfolk and Suffolk to mitigate the devastating impact of COVID-19 on jobs, especially for young people in the region. 

Unemployment and Universal Credit claims have risen due to the pandemic, and the LEP and economic consultants Metro Dynamics produced a report to give local partners a base from which to start planning the level of support that might be needed.

It assessed the anticipated redundancy levels as furlough and self-employed support schemes come to an end through autumn 2020 and into early 2021, and the projections are stark. 

Even the best-case scenario shows unemployment has a potential peak at just over 50,000 jobs at the last quarter of 2020. It is considered the middle-case scenario is most likely with an unemployment peak of just over 120,000.

Working in partnership with the regions’ local authorities, further and higher education establishments and business support groups, 

New Anglia LEP has pledged a series of interventions, including: 

• A redundancy support programme which builds on and brings together existing initiatives. It will work with the DWP, Jobcentre Plus and professional services to ensure employers and employees are aware and have access to available support programmes at the earliest point. 

• A campaign to encourage businesses to contact the LEP via the New Anglia Growth Hub if they are considering making redundancies. 

• Further development of the employment opportunities section on the LEP website to include a redundancy triage service to help connect people to new training and employment opportunities. 

• Tailored support for students who have graduated this summer, to help increase their chances of securing employment or furthering their education. 

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Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of the LEP, said: “There is little doubt that significant numbers of redundancies will be announced over the coming months as businesses find their ‘new normal’ and national support schemes come to an end. 

“The impact of the pandemic across our economy has been profound and many of our region’s key sectors – including tourism, culture and health and social care – will have been severely affected. People with the lowest incomes are likely to be most vulnerable to these job losses and our young people will also be hard hit. The Resolution Foundation estimates that those leaving education this year will be less likely than previous cohorts to have a job in three years’ time. 

“We will work with our local partners to support businesses to restart and rebuild, help people to find the training and guidance they need, and continue to support our further and higher education establishments.”

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