Issue - meetings

Meeting: 05/11/2020 - COVID-19 Response and Recovery Scrutiny Panel (Item 14)

14 Business Recovery and Support pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced the item and welcomed the local business representatives to the meeting.  At the last Panel meeting, Members had expressed their desire to hear from local businesses and understand how the pandemic has impacted upon them and how they had adapted their operations to continue to deliver services under tighter restrictions.

 

To enable any questions to be answered with due insight and to provide an overview of current service provision, the following officers were in attendance at the meeting to contribute to the discussion as required:

 

Theresa Hodgkinson – Director of Place and Communities

Christine Sarris – Assistant Director, Planning and Regulatory Services

Paul Stoppard – Senior Economic Development Officer

 

Director of Place and Communities

The last two weeks had proved challenging but the Economic Recovery Plan was being developed at pace and responding as circumstances were changing.  The Council was fortunate to have an expert team of officers expediting the Business Support Grant scheme and the Business Support Unit was now up and running and assisting local and new businesses as required (business.support@ashfield.gov.uk).

 

The Council had implemented initiatives to endeavour to assist the economic recovery of its town centres and business communities with ongoing funding support, two hour free car parking, promotion of the Kickstart apprenticeship scheme and ongoing support and signposting through the Business Support Unit.  With regard to the Kickstart opportunity, the Council has recently confirmed that it would be creating twenty work placement places for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit, as part of the Government scheme.

 

Assistant Director, Planning and Regulatory Services

Officers were busy digesting and interpreting the many recent changes in legislation and were dealing with business support requests as quickly as they were able.  The Business Support Unit were in the process of producing an information pack which would be finalised and available by the end of the following week.

 

The Environmental Health team were extremely busy offering support and guidance in relation the Covid-19 health and safety requirements and the priority was to provide educational support as a first approach, only utilising enforcement powers if absolutely necessary.

 

Senior Economic Development Officer

The Business Support Unit had been running since September 2020 and had assisted over 224 businesses and had made 41 client introductions. It had taken the form of a ‘triage’ business support service allowing the Council to help people to access the full range of available business support opportunities, including grant funding and facilitating business to business (B2B) introductions, breaking down barriers and securing the assistance they required.

 

The web pages to support the Unit were currently being developed but the demand for the Council’s Web Team had been extraordinarily high since the outbreak and so a slight delay had inevitably occurred.

 

Officers were currently looking at a business support CRM system called Evolutive, which would increase the team’s capacity to support local businesses; reaching approximately 30% more clients and a decision would be made for purchasing the system within the next few weeks.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14