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‘Without a vibrant business community Suffolk crashes and burns’ - why firms need Brexit support

PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 November 2020 | UPDATED: 09:21 22 November 2020

Suffolk Brexit advisors Koyas Miah and Michael Chapman will continue to support businesses after January 1 2021. Picture: ANDREW ST LEDGER/SCC

Suffolk Brexit advisors Koyas Miah and Michael Chapman will continue to support businesses after January 1 2021. Picture: ANDREW ST LEDGER/SCC

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Suffolk leaders have agreed nearly half a million pounds in funding to help support Suffolk businesses as the UK exits the EU in the new year.

East Suffolk Council chief executive Stephen Baker said the Suffolk trade advisors had made a huge difference to local firms already in the Brexit transition period.. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCILEast Suffolk Council chief executive Stephen Baker said the Suffolk trade advisors had made a huge difference to local firms already in the Brexit transition period.. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

The Suffolk Public Sector Leaders gathering of council, police, health and business bosses agreed to form the Suffolk Trade team, which will see the expansion of two existing trade business advisors recruited in March 2019 for a further three years, and an additional advisor added to the team.

The £490,000 scheme is being funded from £350,000 in pooled business rates and £140,000 from the Government’s Brexit funding for local authorities, which in Suffolk saw the councils agree to combine their grants for a unified project.

MORE: What Suffolk businesses can do through Brexit transition

Stephen Baker, East Suffolk Council chief executive, said: “Those trade advisors have made a huge difference to the SME [small and medium enterprise] sector within Suffolk, providing first class advice on the issues around Brexit.

“Of course, the challenges faced by SMEs have multiplied significantly as a result of the pandemic and what has been going on with the Covid-19 response, so that former funding certainly helped put them in place.

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said investment in the Brexit trade advisors represented support for everyone in the county. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCILEast Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said investment in the Brexit trade advisors represented support for everyone in the county. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

“This will enable those trade advisors to continue in those very significant roles, and indeed acknowledging that role has been expanded significantly to enable trade advisors to continue support through the challenges around the EU exit but also the Covid response as well.”

To date, those advisors have helped more than 600 Suffolk businesses, as well as addressing firms at more than 90 business events.

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They have also been working with chambers of commerce in Europe to encourage trade with firms in the county, foster relationships between Suffolk and EU firms, and provide advice and guidance on what businesses will need to do to be ready for trading under the new rules.

The UK is due to complete its exit from the European Union on January 1, although it is still not yet clear if that will be with a trade deal in place.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I am 110% behind this initiative.

“We have got to do everything possible we can to support business, to support the Chamber [of Commerce] and support businesses large and small throughout the county.

“We have got to get the economy motoring, we have got the problems with the pandemic.

MORE: Brexit advisors outline support for Suffolk firms

“It’s a three-year programme, it is not a flash in the pan and it gives certainty to business.”

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant added: “This is far more than supporting businesses – this is supporting Suffolk, and it is supporting the residents of Suffolk.

“Without a vibrant business community Suffolk crashes and burns, that is the reality of it.”

Contact details for the trade advisors can be found on the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce website here.


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