Lancashire firms asked about their work in the pandemic in survey to aid future business support

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Lancashire businesses of all sizes are being urged to feedback their experiences of working through the pandemic in a study designed to improve business support in the future.

The Phoenix Project, developed by a team of researchers from the University of Central Lancashire, will collate responses in a report that will share best practice examples and inform policymakers how to make business support programmes more effective.

The online survey compares turnover, focus on online business, working patterns, staffing changes and productivity levels before and during the pandemic.

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Professor Philip Whyman and Dr Alina Petrescu, from UCLan’s Lancashire Institute for Economic and Business Research (LIEBR), are leading the economics-based research project.

Exterior of the square and new student centre at UCLan. Photo: Kelvin StuttardExterior of the square and new student centre at UCLan. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Exterior of the square and new student centre at UCLan. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Professor Whyman said: "The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for businesses and we want to know how has it affected different businesses and sectors?

"How have businesses responded to the challenges? What barriers continue to frustrate resilience and recovery? What can policymakers do to support businesses and the business community?

“This is a business research project aimed at improving the current understanding of business resilience and economic growth, via expert, science-based managerial and economics knowledge.

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“We’ve used our many years of experience and put the foundations for academic research to support local and national businesses in the long term.”

Professor Phil Whyman of UCLanProfessor Phil Whyman of UCLan
Professor Phil Whyman of UCLan

The Phoenix Project has been running since May 2020, with the first phase of quantitative and qualitative research based on small and medium enterprises to understand the micro and macro impact of the pandemic and how to mitigate future recessionary shocks.

This research has already provided robust evidence to feed into a number of policy and practice-based activities including Parliamentary Select Committees, the United Nation’s response to supporting SMEs through disasters such as COVID-19, State of the Nation work in the creative sectors, and informing future business support for SMEs.

The survey is open until Wednesday, March 30, and one responder will be chosen at random to receive a £200 M&S voucher.

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Phoenix is designed and run in co-operation with Professor Sue Smith from the UCLan Centre for SME Development and Dr Adrian Wright from the UCLan Institute for Research into Organisations, Work and Employment.