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Business & Economy

Sustainability drive among continues among North East SMEs

A majority of North East SMEs remain committed to improving their environmental sustainability despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest Lloyds Bank Business Barometer has found that 60 per cent of the region’s SMEs believe environmental sustainability to be important to their business – just eight points fewer than in 2019 (68 per cent).

59 per cent also said they had worked to become more environmentally sustainable in the past 12 months.

More than a quarter said they had made alterations to their premises to improve energy efficiency or used suppliers that source environmentally friendly products and services.

Other key measures included purchasing green infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging points (15 per cent) and investing in low-carbon vehicles and transport for business use (10 per cent).

The reasons behind the sustainability drive among North East SMEs were pressure from customers (26 per cent), protecting the viability of their business model (25 per cent) and firms’ corporate social responsibility policies (17 per cent) are the top three factors.

Meanwhile, cash reserves (33 per cent) and government grants (12 per cent) remain the most popular forms of finance for SMEs looking to improve their environmental performance.

Steve Harris, regional director for the North East at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The North East is already known for its green credentials, with a thriving offshore wind industry, so it’s encouraging to see the majority of the region’s SMEs are still pursuing plans to make their businesses more sustainable amid the disruption and uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

“We know that action on sustainability will play a key role in the region’s recovery from the pandemic, and investment in this area is going to help businesses build back better, protecting growth and boosting resilience.

“We are committed to ensuring that all of our customers are supported in the transition to a low carbon economy.

“We remain by the side of businesses in the North East, offering discounted funding for green initiatives and relationship teams specially trained to help put sustainability plans into action.”