An update from Greater Manchester LEP Co-Chairs Lou Cordwell and Mo Isap on the COVID-19 crisis
Greater Manchester’s Local Enterprise Partnership Board met on Tuesday night to discuss the challenges Greater Manchester is facing with the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.
As a Board, we are under no illusion about the scale of the economic impact that this virus will have on the Greater Manchester, UK and Global economies. That impact is being felt by businesses right now. Working through Greater Manchester’s Growth Hub, our sole focus is on providing whatever support we can to help companies manage at this very difficult time. We will do everything we can to ensure businesses are able to survive and protect capacity for the longer term recovery.
In the immediate term, we are working with other Business Organisations and LEPs in the North and across the country to urge Government to act now with scale and pace to defer and cut taxes due to be paid by business to HMRC – for example Business Rates, PAYE, National Insurance and VAT. Many of these payments are due in the next few weeks, and businesses need cash right now – not just over the coming weeks and months.
We are also aware that companies need help to pay their wage bills in the light of substantially reduced demand, if they are to prevent redundancies. Employers want to protect their employees in these testing times and also protect capacity for the recovery phase. We are therefore urging Government to make sure promised cash grants for SMEs reach companies bank accounts now. Businesses can’t wait until the end of the month. In addition, we believe the Government should be stepping in to help pay wages to keep people in work, on reduced working time if necessary – with direct payments to employers through the National Insurance mechanism or an employee retention scheme. Many European countries are already instituting schemes where firms continue to pay workers a substantial proportion of their previous wages, with the state providing a rebate for those payments.
The LEP, working with the Growth Hub, have already put in place much support to help businesses affected, with dedicated web pages available and advisors able to help companies with specific advice. We will continue to work with all business representative organisations including Chamber, IOD, FSB, CBI, MakeUK, Pro-Manchester and organisations in the Leisure sector such as Manchester Hoteliers. We urge businesses visit to these webpages and to contact their Banks and Business Advisors. The Growth Hub will be in contact with all Banks and the Business Advisor community to ensure that they have the latest information on support available to help businesses at this time
We also urge companies who may have spare capacity – for example accommodation, under-utilised workforce or manufacturing capacity – to get in touch with the Growth Hub, as this capacity might be vital in helping Greater Manchester come together to fight this virus.
If you can help with the current shortage of ventilators please visit the Government’s dedicated webpage. Otherwise if you have any immediate thoughts or offers please visit: https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus or contact 0161 359 3050