Newcastle launches a Citylife line for SMEs

Published 16/07/2020
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Newcastle City Council will provide much-needed business support for SMEs impacted by COVID-19.
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Citylife Business Support is a brand-new service that will support small and medium businesses to sustain, recover and safeguard jobs. This will support the city’s wider economic recovery plan and is one of six projects that have been funded through the £1.5 million Capacity Fund that was granted to Newcastle City Council by the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Newcastle City Council has developed a package of free support by extending and bringing together services and expertise from across the city. Delivery partners include the Business & IP Centre Newcastle (BIPC) and NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) who are working with partners and expert professional services to support more than 450 businesses and safeguard more than 700 jobs. With a focus on enabling businesses to develop and implement new models of delivery, the aim is to help them recover and plan for their future.

This new service will provide eligible SMEs with free support from a range of ‘Citylife Experts’ who will provide one-to-one advice and workshops tailored to individual needs. Businesses can access up to 8 hours of free support and draw on the experience of more than 20 experts who can support them to re-position their business activities. Advice available ranges from digital and online capabilities, business finance and cash flow, access to new contracts and market opportunities, employment law, continuity planning and re-focussing business operations. What makes this service different is that is flexible and based on intelligence gathered from the SMEs themselves.

Citylife Business Support will also deliver a free online events programme based on current challenges, resilience and innovation and delivered by business leaders who will share their knowledge and expertise.

This brand-new service was developed by identifying gaps in government and local support, working with partners across the city and by using business intelligence to pinpoint cross cutting issues and challenges. Some of the issues SMEs are facing include those that have been present since the start of lockdown, such as a loss of income, forced closure, collapse of supply chains, redundancies, debts, and investment plans being put on hold. There are also concerns about the uncertainty of the current environment, future viability and demand for products and services.

Councillor Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Employment and Culture at Newcastle City Council said: “Businesses across the city are really struggling and this support will help guide them at their time of need. By working with local delivery partners and the SMEs themselves, we are confident this service will address gaps in support, helping businesses refocus and look towards a brighter future. Supporting business to survive and sustain is vital to mitigating the impact of Covid-19. This new service will help our city to recover, protect local jobs and the economy. I would like to thank all of our partners who have helped provide a lifeline to our city’s SMEs.”

Jennifer Hartley Director of Invest Newcastle at Newcastle Gateshead Initiative said: “This new service for SMEs is thanks to much needed funds from the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the collaborative nature of our business community. Based on intelligence our teams have been gathering over the past few months, we know this service will make such a difference. As delivery partners we are proud to join forces with businesses and experts to support our SMEs at this critical time. Leisure and tourism are one of the hardest hit industries, however all sectors have been impacted one way or another and it is crucial that they all get the support they need. By working together and being committed to the recovery of our city’s economy we can build a better future for both businesses and our people.”

This service is just one part of the city’s recovery plan, that looks at the future economic and social resilience of our city.

To be eligible, a business must be a small or medium-sized enterprise, located within the local authority areas of Newcastle, Northumberland or North Tyneside and have been trading before 11 March 2020.
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Citylife Business Support is a new service until March 2021 for North of Tyne SMEs adversely affected by COVID-19. BIPC Newcastle and NewcastleGateshead Initiative have developed a package of free support that will focus on enabling businesses to develop and implement new models of delivery to help them recover and plan for their future.

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