Hampshire businesses battling to survive coronavirus crisis are thrown a lifeline by Solent LEP

BUSINESS bosses have set up a taskforce to help firms struggling to survive the coronavirus crisis.

Monday, 30th March 2020, 12:28 pm
Updated Monday, 30th March 2020, 1:43 pm
Businesses in Hampshire are being thrown a lifeline by the Solent LEP to help them survive the Coronavirus crisis. Pictured is a construction worker wearing masks. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which oversees trade across the region, has united with councils and business bodies to create a new network helping companies in need.

The new link aims to share best practice and intelligence, particularly related to business rates relief and administering the small grants programme, making the process quick and easy.

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SJ Hunt, Solent LEP business director. Picture: Habibur Rahman

SJ Hunt, Solent LEP director will be heading up the first meeting of the new taskforce via an online video tomorrow.

She said: ‘Despite businesses hearing from the government about the help available to them, we wanted to ensure, at a local level, that everyone has access to the information which applies to them and that the process of acquiring that help is as straightforward and streamlined as possible.

‘This is an unprecedented time, and it has never been more important for us to remember that we are together stronger. We look forward to working with key partners in order that we can jointly support our businesses to deliver a prosperous future for the Solent.’

Ross McNally, chief executive of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, oversees the welfare of hundreds of the county’s companies, and said it was a worrying time for firms.

‘Our business community is being challenged like never before and Hampshire Chamber recognises the absolute need for all parts of the business support structure to get resources to businesses as quickly and effectively as possible,’ he added.

‘The Solent Task Force can make a great contribution and a real difference.’

Councillor Steve Pitt, deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council and the authority’s city development and culture chief, welcomed the initiative.

He added the council had already launched a ‘dedicated webpage of advice’, a new coronavirus business helpline and crowdfunding scheme to help businesses ‘survive during this challenging time’.

He added: ‘We strongly support this new Solent Task Force and the excellent work that can come out of us all working together in tandem.’

As well as launching the new group, the LEP has set up a business resilience programme for firms to get 12 hours of fully-funded, one-to-one support.

The LEP is also looking at how it can support companies who have the ability to work remotely and is setting up an online masterclasses and resources to help businesses develop their Covid-19 response strategy.

To find out more about the help available, see: solentlep.org.uk/coronavirus-support-hub/