July 14, 2020 @ 11:55 by Richard Dawson
Newcastle City Council and the North of Tyne Combined Authority have co-funded a new service that will support SMEs to recover from the impact of coronavirus and safeguard jobs.
Citylife Business Support is one of six projects to be funded through the £1.5 million Capacity Fund.
Newcastle City Council has developed a package of free support by extending and bringing together services and expertise from across the city.
Delivery partners include the Business and IP Centre Newcastle (BIPC) and NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) who are working to support more than 450 businesses and safeguard more than 700 jobs.
With a focus on enabling businesses to develop and implement new models of delivery, the aim of Citylife is to help firms recover and plan for the future.
The new service will provide SMEs with free support from ‘Citylife Experts’.
Eligible businesses can access up to eight hours of advice ranging from digital and online capabilities to business finance and cash flow.
Citylife Business Support will also deliver a free online events programme based on current challenges.
The service was developed by identifying gaps in Government and local support, working with partners across the city and using business intelligence to pinpoint cross cutting issues and challenges.
Some of the issues SMEs are facing include those that have been present since the start of lockdown, such as a loss of income, forced closure, collapse of supply chains, redundancies, debts, and investment plans being put on hold.
Councillor Ged Bell, cabinet member for employment and culture at Newcastle City Council said: “Businesses across the city are really struggling and this support will help guide them at their time of need.
“By working with local delivery partners and the SMEs themselves, we are confident this service will address gaps in support, helping businesses refocus and look towards a brighter future.
“Supporting business to survive and sustain is vital to mitigating the impact of Covid-19. This new service will help our city to recover, protect local jobs and the economy.”
Jennifer Hartley, director of Invest Newcastle at Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, added: “This new service for SMEs is thanks to much-needed funds from the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the collaborative nature of our business community.
“Based on intelligence our teams have been gathering over the past few months, we know this service will make such a difference.
“As delivery partners we are proud to join forces with businesses and experts to support our SMEs at this critical time.”
To be eligible, a business must be a small or medium-sized enterprise, located within the local authority areas of Newcastle, Northumberland or North Tyneside and have been trading before March 11 2020.