A dedicated website providing the latest information for West Midlands businesses hit by the Covid-19 crisis was launched today (Wednesday March 25) by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The site provides a bespoke resource for businesses seeking up-to-date advice on how to deal with the pandemic as well as what financial support is available and how to access it.
The Covid-19 Business Support site is a response to feedback from the region's Covid-19 Economic Impact Group which was set up by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and the WMCA.
The Mayor is convening virtual weekly meetings of the Group to connect local intelligence with national policy decisions, ensuring that support is effective and reaches businesses without delay. This is in addition to the public health response led by the NHS and local authorities.
Commenting on the launch of the new site the Mayor said: “Given the wide range of information coming from various sources, we felt it was vital that local businesses had a dedicated resource that pulled together the latest information on Covid-19 and provided useful links for further help and advice.
“The Government has moved fast to provide support for businesses in the face of this unprecedented challenge and that support will enable West Midlands companies to stay in business and retain workers during this crisis.
“But it's important that companies can access that support quickly and easily and this website is designed to help them do that.
“We will update the site as new information and support becomes available, especially for the region's self-employed who are such an important part of our economy.
“These are incredibly tough times for all of us, but the help and support outlined on the website can help make sure businesses bounce back quickly and robustly."
Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economy and innovation, added: “I would in particular encourage SMEs to take advantage of this new website.
“SMEs are a vital part of our regional economy and this is especially true in Wolverhampton and the Black Country. The Government support already announced is welcome and will help provide some breathing space but we all need play our part in supporting such businesses.
“We know that cash flow is a real issue for SMEs so we can all help by ensuring prompt payment to these businesses."
The Covid-19 Economic Impact Group, which has been meeting weekly since March 4, has more than 35 members including private sector organisations representing construction, conferencing, advanced manufacturing and digital businesses along with all the region's Chambers of Commerce, the IoD, CBI, Make UK and ICAEW.
It also includes the region's three Local Enterprise Partnerships, Growth Hubs, the West Midlands Growth Company, the seven West Midlands metropolitan local authorities, the Bank of England, British Business Bank and government departments.
Tim Pile, chair of the region's Strategic Economic Development Board, said: “Collaboration between organisations offering support is going to be absolutely essential to enable businesses to easily access critical information through this challenging time.
“As partnerships of the private, public and education sectors, West Midlands LEPs are working extensively with partners to share information and gather intelligence in their local areas.
“In particular we are delivering immediate support directly to businesses via our Growth Hubs, as well as referring them to specialist advice through partner organisations.
“Working with businesses we are examining how key sectors to the West Midlands economy are being impacted, ensuring their challenges are being heard, and looking for opportunities to accelerate their recovery.
“This new site complements the work taking place across the region, and will be a welcome tool bringing together further additional resources such as helpful transport advice."
Businesses can access the new website at https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/covid-19-support/business-support/
Organisations that would like to contribute to the Covid-19 Economic Impact Group can do so by emailing CoronavirusResponse@wmca.org.uk.