Northamptonshire business leaders are feeling positive about the future, even as we enter the UK’s second national lockdown. Mike Hughes summarises their opinions from our recent event.
On 4 November, 90 business leaders from across the county attended our Northamptonshire Limited panel and audience discussion. The event was an overwhelmingly positive affair, with 67% of those attending feeling more positiveabout the future now than they did in April, with only 16% feeling less positive.
40% said the second lockdown would have little impact on their business, while 50% said the effect would only by minor. This is likely because most attendees fully expected another lockdown, with over 76% telling us they already had a plan in place for when it happened.
Despite the positivity, pressures are still impacting employers in the Northamptonshire region. With modest government guidance and an unpredictable future approaching, 38% of responders said the fear of a coming recession is likely to keep them awake at night.
A further 28% were most worried about the pressure of many business critical issues that they have no control over, including Brexit and the new lockdown.
The International Business Report we conducted in April saw leaders concerned about keeping their staff safe, motivated and able to do their jobs. However, our new poll showed 37% of participants considered the changing demands and expectations of customers as their biggest challenge.
Otherwise, 35% of responders were concerned about cash flow, while 28% of Northamptonshire businesses were still worried about keeping their people safe and working.
Northamptonshire and East Midlands stand up to lockdown
Generally, Northamptonshire and the East Midlands area has fared better than many during lockdown. Only 13% of the East Midlands workforce took furlough, as opposed to a national average of 16%, as of the end of July.
The region has also taken fewer government-back loans than other parts of the UK and, overall, local businesses reported the lowest risk of insolvency when compared to other regions.
During our event, 37% of attendees hoped the government's low-tax regime would continue. Re-assuringly, however, only 5% of responders said lack of funding was holding them back from growing their business.
Plenty of reason for Northamptonshire to be positive
It's been a stressful period for business leaders, but it's great to see that they're feeling more positive as we head into the second lockdown.
With so much uncertainty and little information, particularly regarding Brexit and the economy, it's understandable that people are concerned about the recession and the impact this will have on their staff.
However, based on the data and comments from local business leaders, I believe there are plenty of reasons for Northamptonshire companies to be positive about the future.
To help build resilience in Northamptonshire over the long term, we invite local businesses to join our Business Leaders Forum, which has been set up to help leaders connect and share ideas with each other during an informal ‘roundtable’.