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State of the Region 2020 Full Report

Headline Issues

Still of concern



Cross Sectoral

Social Distancing-Companies are concerned over the lack of clarity for the recommended social distance. With discussions of this being potentially reduced to 1m, some companies have already invested up to £100k to make their premises safe under the 2m rule, meaning there is no further funding to adapt this to 1m. 

Access to Finance and Cash flow-A number of SMEs continue to express concern about their ability to survive until the economy fully reopens due to cash flow. Most businesses in need of financial help in some way. Credit providers more cautious about who to lend to. Sales affected as buyers cannot always afford to pay. Companies do not want to borrow as they feel they are creating a problem, possibly larger, later on.

Diversification -Many companies looking at what else they are able to do, to diversify. Some are moving very quickly and most are aware this is key to their survival.

Job Retention Scheme & Furlough -Some confusion around the new rules of the Job Retention Scheme persists, particularly around the rules for part-time workers from July.

Fears around the unknown in relation to furlough being decreased in August and then ceasing in October. Companies preparing for redundancies and assessing costs and those at risk. This has been ongoing since furlough started. Potential legal cases as some employees not prepared to go back to work face redundancy.


Return to Work -Many are keen to re-open and start their recovery process. However, others are confused and disheartened due to the decrease in sales and interactions they have been seeing since Feb/March. Most have concerns about how to ensure safety of staff and customers. 

New Business Models including Digitalisation -A lot of retail businesses have mentioned an increase in online orders and many have adopted ways to run the business digitally. 

Cross Theme -The retail sector is complex, and its performance during the pandemic has differed immensely by sub-sector, with some areas showing strong growth whilst other areas have collapsed. Many online shopping, supermarket, and local convenience markets have shown growth over the past three months, whilst most remaining retail markets have had to close, furlough staff, and struggle with shop unit and shopping centre rents. 

Business & Professional Services

Cross Theme-Many starting to see business pick back up, however this is very much dependent on sub sector.

Access to Finance and Cash flow-Some businesses still struggling due to not qualifying for the financial support offered.


Cross Theme-Starting to see work picking back up, but volume and value of orders is minimal to previous years. Some are suggesting that the impact has been minimal and they don’t think the effects will be long-lasting.Some are looking to cut overhead costs.

Manufacturing & Engineering

Cross Theme -Research suggests this sector was one of the hardest hit during the lockdown.

Starting to see work picking back up, but volume and value of orders is minimal to previous years. Some are suggesting that the impact has been minimal and they don’t think the effects will be long-lasting.

Trade Agreements -Export sales –which had already fallen in the previous two quarters –continued to plummet.

Diversification -Businesses looking for funding to support diversification plans.

Visitor Economy

Access to Finance -Various businesses that have been closed throughout the lockdown period require support with financials having had no income.

Loss of Sales -Many are struggling to engage with clients or diversify –a lot of what they do is based on face-to-face interactions; difficult to deliver to an online audience.