"This is the greatest economic challenge of our time and the amount of calls and online forms that have been completed requesting further business support is unprecedented."
Nearly 1,500 companies in Coventry and Warwickshire have contacted a regional business organisation in just four weeks for advice during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The overwhelming majority of businesses were seeking information on financial support, Human Resources and general guidance from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub on the best way to manage the crisis to ensure their survival.
The top five sectors to contact the CWLEP Growth Hub were other service activities, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trading, accommodation and food service activities, and professional, scientific and technical activities.
The data has been broken down into different parts of the area for local authorities and district and borough councils to fully analyse the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.
In Coventry, 86 per cent of the 404 businesses who took part in the survey pinpointed a decrease in sales and bookings, cash flow issues and availability of staff to have affected their businesses the most.
The feedback highlighted retailers are concerned about a long-term impact on trade in the city centre while manufacturing companies are suffering from delayed payments and orders being cancelled although 30 Coventry manufacturers responded to the Government’s call to produce ventilators.
Of the 102 businesses in North Warwickshire who contacted the Growth Hub, events and retail companies have been hit hard through cancelled orders, and retailers and food businesses – who were struggling before Covid-19 – are experiencing a severe decline in footfall.
North Warwickshire businesses have stepped up to the challenge of offering equipment to the NHS including stocked mobile wash basins while logistics services have transported vital equipment to the NHS as well as vulnerable groups.
In Nuneaton and Bedworth, 89 per cent of the 116 businesses to communicate with the Growth Hub highlighted that delayed payments were causing a massive strain on their cash flow as well as supply chain issues because of a knock-on effect of factory closures in China due to the Coronavirus.
The industries seeking the most support in Nuneaton and Bedworth were retail and food and leisure businesses with their owners unsure whether they would be opening again after the lockdown period.
A total of 119 companies in Rugby asked for support, with manufacturers facing issues around the clarity of Government guidance whether they needed to close or not.
Small hotels and cafes feel they are facing an uncertain future in Rugby town centre and businesses from the social care industries are concerned they will fall through the cracks because of their rateable values or company status.
The Growth Hub has engaged in-depth with businesses in the medical and manufacturing sectors in Stratford-on-Avon.
Of the 221 views reflected in the data from Stratford-on-Avon, retailers and food and accommodation businesses have been particularly hit hard but manufacturing companies have supported the ventilator challenge and support to the NHS with PPE.
Among the 246 businesses in Warwick, several childcare and education providers are suffering following the closure of schools and social distancing measures and some sole traders are unsure whether their work with schools will be able to sustain them post-Coronavirus.
The food and retail industries are also being affected in Warwick with catering companies and pubs furloughing staff and some have diversified to support vulnerable people through food deliveries.
Craig Humphrey, the managing director of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub, said the in-depth survey revealed the level of crisis among the Coventry and Warwickshire business community.
He said: “This is the greatest economic challenge of our time and the amount of calls and online forms that have been completed requesting further business support is unprecedented.
“A total of 95 per cent of all current Growth Hub engagements are related to Covid-19 and compared with the same period in 2019, there has been a 554 per cent increase in engagements as well as increased views of our website and social media posts.
“We hope the data we have collected will give each local authority area a better understanding of how their businesses are being affected.
“The CWLEP Growth Hub is on the frontline of business support during this challenging time and it is through local and regional collaboration as well as national support that we will help guide businesses into a life post-Coronavirus.”
Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said: “Businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire are very fortunate to have in our area a Growth Hub which is fully engaged, providing a really useful source of information and valuable advice.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “I’m really supportive of the work that the Growth Hub is doing. These are certainly tough times for business but that’s exactly why this work is so important. It will be a long road back to a more settled economic position but by working together we can ensure businesses know where and how to access the help and support they need.”