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A testing time that will prove our strength as a region

23.03.2020

Written by:
Kellie Beirne, Director, City Deal

The coming weeks and months will present huge challenges to us as individuals and communities, and in our businesses.

Most of us have never experienced anything like the changes to our everyday lives that we are being advised to take, or the even greater restrictions that could well come into play in the near future.

We all understand the reasons for these extraordinary measures, but that doesn’t make it any less challenging. Many businesses and sole traders will find it extremely difficult to navigate through the weeks and months ahead without coming under severe financial pressure.

The retail, leisure and hospitality sectors are already being affected as customers stay away, but as time goes on other businesses in the supply chain will feel the effects too. And businesses in all sectors will be affected by staff becoming sick or having to go into isolation, or simply following the Government’s advice on social distancing.

In these circumstances it is vital that we all do what we can to help and support each other. The Welsh Government has announced a £1.4bn package of support for small businesses, including a 12-month business rate holiday for small retail, leisure and hospitality business and grants of £25,000 for businesses in the same sector with a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000.

Businesses in all sectors eligible for Small Business Rate Relief with a rateable value less then £12,000 will get grants of £10,000. The Development Bank of Wales has also announced a repayment holiday for businesses it has lent money to.

Cardiff Capital Region is working on making sure it’s as clear as possible to businesses how they can access these support schemes that are being put in place, and we will be communicating this information to businesses as soon as we can.

We are also asking businesses to tell us what are the difficulties they are facing, and what help they need to overcome them through a co-branded survey we have issued with FORCardiff . The 10 local authorities that make up the Cardiff Capital Region will also be doing whatever else they can to help small businesses in their areas.

The coronavirus pandemic is a test of the resilience of our communities.

There are great traditions of mutual support and cooperation in our region that we can draw on. In Cardiff Capital Region, working together for the good of all is at the heart of what we’re about. Our ethos is that the region is not a success if the most in need are left behind.

And there’s a very real opportunity for businesses to play their part too. There’s an urgent need for companies that have the manufacturing capacity to help overcome the shortage of ventilators, PPE, face masks, medical diagnostics and devices, data systems to manage and predict workflow, blood gas analysers, syringes and other equipment. Providing premises for production support and other services is another way businesses can help.

For us in the Cardiff Capital Region, we will also be continuing our work around connecting companies in clusters. In the current crisis it is more important than ever that businesses and public sector bodies work together as effectively as possible to overcome difficulties and smooth production.

No-one can tell yet how long the pandemic will last. The economic impact is likely to be severe, but it’s not certain yet how long-lasting the effects will be or how quickly the recovery will come. We have to assume that it is likely to be some months before we can pick up from where we were before.

What is certain is that we must try to sustain our businesses and communities through the crisis, and help them get back on their feet when the recovery comes. The work that we do as Cardiff Capital Region is all about providing the environment in which businesses can flourish, in every corner of our region.

It’s about creating a region that is better connected, more competitive, and more resilient. These are the qualities that we will need to get us moving again when the anxieties of today are over.

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