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NE Chamber Economic Survey shows huge impact of COVID-19


Image: Jason Adams, Managing Director, Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa.

The largest independent North East business survey has revealed results for the second quarter of the year which are as negative as employers had feared, due to Covid 19.

Sales for the manufacturing and service sectors fell to record lows of -54% and -63% respectively, far worse figures than those reported during 2009’s financial crash. Cash flow was also at an unprecedented negative level of -48.2%.

North East England Chamber of Commerce President Lesley Moody, said: “These results show the speed with which this crisis engulfed our economy. As a region we entered this crisis with above average levels of unemployment and economic inequality. While our survey shows workforce scores falling less dramatically, these are being supported by the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. As we have pointed out to Government, downturns are more pronounced in regions such as ours and fall disproportionately on those with the least capacity to withstand them.

“We must therefore see a recovery built on principles of fairness, community, sustainability, and opportunity. The Chamber is ready to play a leading role in this; not just in campaigning for support but also in bringing our business community together to help one another, learn best practice and share new opportunities. It will be tough, but together we can build a stronger North East economy.”

The Chamber’s economic survey also showed almost all the respondents had accessed Government support in some form with 65% using the furlough measures, 8.5% the CIBLS loan, 24% Bounce Back Loan and 38.8% deferring VAT or other taxes.

Commenting on the survey Chamber member Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa’s managing director, Jason Adams said: “The furlough scheme has been very welcome and our team is particularly fortunate that our owner has topped everyone’s salaries up to 100%. Looking ahead with the furlough scheme, I think there needs to be something put in place beyond October for the hospitality sector.

“Now the Government has given the go ahead for hotels to reopen on July 4th, when the social distancing rule will be been reduced to 1m, we can finally start planning and implementing new procedures. The most complex area of our business is the spa and gym and until Tuesday’s announcement, we thought they may have been included in the July 4th reopening. We’ve now been told this is definitely not the case and that’s a huge blow to the business with many of our guests telling us they visit Rockliffe Hall primarily for the spa.

“Naturally we are delighted that we can soon reopen the hotel and will do our very best, but the lack of communication and delays in confirmation from the Government have made things very difficult.”

Durham University Business School is associate sponsor of the Chamber’s Economic Survey.