31 Jul 2020
The latest virtual meeting for the Chamber’s Glasgow Business Resilience Council (GBRC) took place this week. Rolling priorities for the GBRC remain focused on connectivity rebuild, education and workforce impact, opportunities to catch up with the rest of the UK as restrictions ease, return to work guidance, Northshoring opportunities and Team Glasgow.
Chamber chief executive Stuart Patrick provided members with updates on Glasgow Chamber of Commerce’s activity. These included the changes to foreign travel quarantine measures and the effects this will have on workforce planning. He also spoke of Scottish airports and consumer confidence in booking any travel based on existing government guidance.
He highlighted that Scotrail has confirmed social distancing will be reduced to 1m on trains. Stuart also shared engagement from British Chambers of Commerce, including the internal market white paper which spurred on significant political discussion and asked for businesses to contribute their views.
The Glasgow Economic Recovery Group action plan was circulated with a ‘holding response’ which was received from Scottish Government. It recognised the need for focus on the city centre as highlighted by Centre for Cities recovery index, with the average city centre at 45% of footfall pre lockdown.
Jim Watson, director of business services at Scottish Enterprise, provided an overview of the Scottish Enterprise response to the crisis. He said despite the Government moving quickly to put provisions into place, many businesses knew of funding before mechanisms were in place to access such. A cross partner working group was established early on in the crisis to understand funding gaps and tensions.
He added that the business impact was instant, and the immediate business focus was on resilience and financial support. Scottish Enterprise anticipated possible challenges that may increase for its business over the next few months as the furlough scheme ends. Scottish Enterprise has increased demand for support around logistics of returning to work via the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service.
Graham Smith, economic development manager at Glasgow City Council, updated members on Glasgow City Council’s response. He provided an update on the business support grants, with £110m paid out, with £1m paid through the self-employed hardship grant and over 9,000 grants awarded through phases 1, 2 and 3. More grants were paid out by Glasgow City Council in the first two weeks than Edinburgh and Aberdeen combined.
In addition, Graham set out GCC’s economic business recovery ambitions, stating these would come through access to city centre, supporting viable businesses to break even, including those forced to close and that are vulnerable due to lockdown, with the business grant fund, with further investment into the Glasgow Metro and Clyde Mission. He stated sustainable development is required to address issues with vacant and derelict land and to ensure no areas are left behind, with programmes needing to be introduced to meet short and long terms need of economy and labour market. Therefore, platforms will be created to support the transition into the new economy.
GBRC members furthered discussion, by raising concerns over cash flow being a key issue for businesses, with additional support for those businesses still forced to close and the need to prioritise activity and spend post COVID. They also highlighted the potential expectation of unsatisfied demand following spend of existing grant money and the need for COVID flight to quality (factors considered include smarter, greener and wellness spaces) in the commercial property market.
The next meeting of the GBRC will take place on Tuesday 4 August and will focus on the city centre.
Businesses can contact the group via a dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org