Guide East Devon business coronavirus update - 9 July 2020

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1. Introduction

East Devon District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy, Asset Management and Regeneration, Councillor Paul Hayward, introduces this week’s business update

We’re receiving a steady stream of applications for the second round of our discretionary grant fund but we want more businesses to apply, which have high fixed property costs and experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus. Many such businesses will be suppliers to the retail, hospitality and leisure trade with high overheads. It could be a pub, a food wholesaler, or a sports group who have not received previous business rates-based grant support.  If you know anyone who might fit this bill, please urge them to look on our website, check the criteria and submit an application. The fund will close at 5pm on 17th July so there’s just over a week left, so it's the last few days to apply.

This is a golden opportunity for all eligible businesses, large and small, to avail themselves of funding which might not be available elsewhere, or again. We do fully appreciate that no-one likes to fill in forms but, on this occasion, it certainly is worthwhile clicking on the link and seeing if we can assist you in recouping some of your Covid-19 losses.

Round 1 applicants are currently being notified about their application. Successful applicants have been contacted and we’re working through those who may need to provide additional information. Please bear with us.

I am delighted to see that many East Devon hospitality, leisure and retail businesses are starting to open, on which many local jobs depend. It will be a challenging time for them as they adapt to new requirements, including social distancing and contact tracing. Personally, as I travel around the district, I’ve seen businesses adapting well to these new circumstances, providing trust and reassurance for their customers to return. I cannot stress highly enough how important it is that we all support our local traders at this crucial time. I have been delighted at the level of positive engagement from the business community, the Chambers of Commerce, the Town and Parish Councils and we will all need to work together to prevent a worsening of the already parlous financial turmoil we see around us, locally and nationally.

As we start to return to some kind of normality, we must not get complacent with requirements for social distancing and handwashing, as there’s still a pandemic. We must all remain vigilant in order to prevent it spreading.  If you haven’t already, I urge you to read our advice to get safely back to work.

I am keen to promote a green recovery and to work towards a low carbon economy.  This can take a number of different forms, from supporting local food and drink businesses through to harnessing the world leading climate science expertise we have in our area.  I welcome the Government’s recent announcement regarding investment in improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and supporting the development of new skills.  This sits alongside our own commitment to becoming a carbon neutral Council by 2040. The recovery out of Covid-19’s terrible impact does give us the perfect opportunity, albeit unintended, to shape a greener, cleaner, more socially centred environment and we must grasp that opportunity with both hands... Mother Nature is looking to us all for help and demonstrative action.

Plans for Devon's economic recovery have been unveiled. We're among the Team Devon partners, along with business representatives, Devon’s District and City Councils, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Dartmoor National Park and Devon’s MPs, who have drawn up the COVID-19 Economy and Business Recovery Plan. District Councillors from across the political spectrum are sharing ideas on how we can focus and channel the shared drive and determination to assist the economic revival of East Devon. This is essential and will be welcomed by all residents. People, not politics.

Team Devon is predicting the county’s economy will shrink by around 8% this year, roughly 1% more than the rest of the UK.  We are committed to the county’s economy becoming stronger, more inclusive and sustainable. There is potential to create 30,000 new jobs, 80,000 new training places and secure investment of £550 million, generating £2.8 billion of additional economic output.