Government 'favouring the South', survey of Northern firms shows

A survey of businesses across the North, looking at the impact of Covid-19 on small firms, has generated some alarming results.

Monday, 15th June 2020, 12:32 pm
Frank McKenna

*Eighty six per cent of businesses believe that the Government is favouring companies in London over those in the North.

*Eighty one per cent expect to make redundancies during the next twelve months.

*Seventy three per cent believe it will take them three years to get to the same level of trade that they were enjoying before lockdown.

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The stark findings come from a study conducted by business organisation Downtown in Business.

Chief executive Frank McKenna explained: “We wanted to understand what the ‘S’ within the SME sector was feeling through this crisis – and the results do not make for optimistic reading.

“It is interesting that Northern businesses believe the Government favour companies in the capital.

“There is a feeling that London-based firms have easier access to finance; and it did not go unnoticed that a large chunk of cash has been awarded to Transport for London in recent weeks.

“What has perhaps not been acknowledged by Northern businesses is that this cash has come with strings – nor perhaps is there a recognition of how important the Capital remains to UK PLC.

“The survey clearly shows that if the Government wants to convince businesspeople in the North that they are serious about its economic ‘levelling-up’ agenda, then it has a long way to go.”

In more positive news for the Government, the survey showed that the business support packages put in place by Chancellor Rishi Sunak were rated as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’, with furloughing identified as the most useful measure introduced by over 70 per cent of respondents.

A questionnaire was completed by 100 DIB member companies.