Free advice clinics with business experts to help combat COVID-19 impact

1st May 2020

Ashness Bridge, Cumbria

Cumbrian businesses are being offered the opportunity to take part in free weekly advice clinics with professional services specialists to help guide them through the Coronavirus crisis.

A number of firms from the professional services sector, with expertise in fields such as HR, law, finance and accounting, have offered their services free of charge for weekly one hour video conferencing sessions, starting next week (Wednesday, May 6).

The sessions will take the form of a Zoom webinar, with professionals presenting on a topical issue and responding to questions provided in advance, or posted during the webinar on the sidebar, by participating businesses.

The sessions will also showcase ‘real examples’ of businesses which have experienced the particular topics being presented, such as accessing business loans, safe working practices and new ways of customer engagement.

The weekly clinics are designed to provide clear understanding and practical insight into key issues to meet the demand of Cumbrian businesses who require advice and support.  High on the priority list are topics such as the Job Retention Scheme, Support for the Self-Employed and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Miranda Kirschel, Head of Business and Innovation at Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, explained that the LEP was happy to organise the sessions after consulting with the Business and Economic Response and Recovery Group (BERRG) of the Local Resilience Forum, which is responsible for developing the county’s business and economy response to COVID-19.

She said: “We are conscious that there is an increasing number of businesses in Cumbria seeking guidance and needing specific advice from an HR, finance and accounting and legal perspective.

“We will therefore host weekly clinics for Cumbrian businesses with professional services experts to provide overviews of the current measures implemented by Government and then hold a Q&A session for businesses to ask specific questions that are concerning them.

“Topics will include, for example, the Job Retention Scheme, Support for the Self-Employed and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

“We would seek to provide information to as wide a range of businesses as possible, including those not receiving information through existing networks, such as local authorities, the Federation of Small Businesses, CBI Cumbria and the LEP amongst others.”

The sessions will take the form of a 15-20 minute presentation followed by 40-45 minutes devoted to questions and discussion.

Miranda continued: “Any questions that are not answered can be picked up individually after the call. Any questions where the answer is not known or available can be escalated back to Government.”

Subjects to be explored during the first wave of clinics are:

  • Week 1 (Wednesday, May 6 – 11am): Job Retention Scheme and bringing people back to work, register here;
  • Week 2 (Wednesday, May 13 – 11am): Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme, register here;
  • Week 3 (Wednesday, May 20 – 11am): Getting back to work safely – experience share, registration coming soon, register here;
  • Week 4 (Wednesday, May 27 – 11am): Wider legal issues: supply chain, data protection, contractual and property issues, register here.

Registration details for subsequent clinics will be shared here shortly.

Joanne Holborn of Baines Wilson LLP and Chair of CLEP’s Professional Services Sector Panel, said: “I’m delighted to be chairing these sessions and drawing on expertise from a range of sectors to provide valuable support for local businesses.”

Carolyn Dodwell, Chair of Cumbria LEP’s Business Strategy Group said: “We welcome businesses large and small to these sessions.  We know there are many difficult issues facing businesses at present and we want to provide as much support and guidance as possible. We also want to hear about other topics which we can add to the programme so we are delivering exactly what is needed in the region to tackle this unprecedented situation.”

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