However, as businesses start to navigate their way out of the initial economical impact of Covid-19, the real work begins. Sussex has witnessed a huge leap in Universal Credit claimants, with 2.5 times the numbers claiming in July from the March figures, and with the Furlough scheme coming to an end in October, the concerns are this figure is only going to increase.
“Having been on the front line working with freelancers, micro businesses and SMEs over the last 4 months, there is a real need for practical support for our economy”, highlights Jon Trigg, Managing Director of Sussex based coworking and flexible office operator, Freedom Works. “This is why we have launched this week our new ‘Members Concierge’ service. This is open to all and is a free to use service where we match make businesses, to ensure all and any spend is kept within the local economy”, he explains.
“Having spoken with businesses returning - the real support is helping regenerate business, understanding what financial support is available and practical advice on how to trade out of a crisis”, further elaborates Trigg.
The key reason for the slow down during the summer was cited as a loss of orders, which according to a survey conducted by the Local Enterprise Partnership, Coast to Capital, just over 82% of businesses in the region witnessed a loss in orders and sales. This is why one of the big driving points for Freedom Works will be introducing businesses to each other to ensure spend is kept local, and local businesses support each other.
Freedom Works has over 1,800 businesses who use it’s spaces and services throughout Sussex with locations in Crawley, Chichester, Hove and Worthing, and all of these businesses can now benefit from a free of charge support service to help them navigate the next few months ahead. The service will include; personal introduction business matchmaking service, peer-support cohorts with specialists brought in to provide guidance and advice, business support clinics with guidance and sign-posting to the plethora of government (national and local) support packages available, as and when they become available.
The service is to be spearheaded by Head of Community in Freedom Works, Joanne Yates. Joanne is a Sussex based businesswoman who has previously been a Business Advisor for Sussex Enterprise. But, prior to that and most importantly successfully navigated her joinery business over 18 years through 2 crises; The Lewes floods in 2001 and the financial crash in 2009, to eventually sell it and exit the business.
Although the economic future is still uncertain based on Brexit and possible second waves, growth is expected. Based on projections of the GDP Index, which is used as a base tool to predict the economies health, it is forecasted the country will bounce back from the height of the economic crisis, Quarter 2 (April - June 2020), with the stabilisation anticipated from late 2020 and throughout the whole of 2021. On this basis any support to help stimulate the local economy will be a key contributory factor in helping getting the region back up and running to pre Covid levels sooner rather than later.
“It is on all of us all to help guide ourselves out of this crisis. These are not just businesses, but real people with mortgages and families to support” adds Jo, who is passionate about local business. “Our focus is to help and support the business community as much as we can and provide the hands on support which will help them rebuild, as together we will get through this. In turn we have our customers of tomorrow - who will want the new way of working through flexible and community based workspaces”, concludes Joanne.
There is no cost to this service and if any business would be interested in finding out more on the Freedom Works Members Concierge Service they can email the team at [email protected]