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Lancashire Enterprise Partnership: Report reveals coronavirus economic impact

A REPORT has been released which reveals the extent of the damage done by the pandemic to Lancashire’s economy and how the county can recover.

The document, released by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership found that between April and June 2020 the number of hours worked in Lancashire dropped from over 1,000m to 842m per week, while the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose from 3.7 per cent in March 2020 to 6.9 per cent in May 2020.

It also found that there were over 100,000 workers supported by the furlough scheme at the start of the pandemic, with around 85,000 still furloughed as of March 2021, while apprenticeships were down by 21 per cent compared to the previous financial year.

LEP chief executive Sarah Kemp, said: “Like many other parts of the country, Lancashire has been hit hard by the pandemic and this report doesn’t shy away from its impact and the challenges we face as we look to recover.

“However, it also demonstrates that many of our businesses have been incredibly resilient and innovative during this difficult period, and that Lancashire’s entrepreneurial spirit has spurred on many individuals to start their own ventures.”

As well as the damage done by the Covid-19 crisis, the 36 page document shows that Lancashire’s volume of business creation has outperformed the North West average.

According to Companies House, 14,000 new businesses were registered in Lancashire between April 2020 1 and March 31 2021, an increase of 17.1 per cent from the previous year.

In contrast, North West business creation grew by 16.7 per cent in the same period.

The report also reveal that Boost, Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub, saw a 100 per cent increase in enquiries, and a 50 per cent increase in website traffic, during the height of the pandemic and that around 3,000 individual pieces of business guidance were delivered to local companies.

Ms Kemp said: “This, combined with the effective grass-roots business support provided by agencies like Boost, and the strategic interventions being driven by our new Sector Groups, and other LEP initiatives, means we are already stimulating new economic growth as we emerge from the grip of Covid.”

The report also sets out a potential roadmap to economic recovery by analysing areas such as skills and employment, stakeholder engagement, innovation, and business finance.

Meanwhile the strategic economic framework laid out in the document will also help to inform the Greater Lancashire Plan initiative, which is being led by Lancashire’s local government leaders.

LEP chair David Taylor said: “This report clearly shows that despite the difficulties and disruption faced by many businesses, local communities and individuals, Lancashire has both the capability and capacity to rebuild as a stronger, fairer and more prosperous region.

“It further highlights how the LEP’s collaborations with government and local partners continue to generate significant employment, housing, skills and investment opportunities.”

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