Business support in Cumbria to continue after Brexit

Business support in Cumbria will continue after Brexit, even though much of it is funded by the European Union.

Cumbria Business Growth Hub provides grants and advice to businesses, including start-ups. It has assisted 7,500 businesses since 2012, and 2,700 potential start-ups, boosting the county’s economy by £252m in GVA.

Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “Our services are funded by the Chamber and its partners.

“They include Sellafield Ltd., Carlisle City and South Lakeland Councils, Cumbria LEP, Penrith Industrial BID and, crucially, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

“We can reassure the county’s businesses that Brexit won’t have an impact on Growth Hub services. Indeed, we’re in the process of recruiting more advisers.

“The Government has assured us that funding will continue until 2023. By then, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund should be in place to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of ERDF money.”

She added: “I’d urge businesses to take a close look at the Growth Hub’s offer. There’s a lot we can do to help them grow, diversify and become more productive and profitable.”

The offer includes the BSUS programme for start-ups, grants to help buy-in consultancy services, leadership and development programmes delivered by Lancaster University Management School, and the Cumbria Manufacturing Service.

Details are on the Growth Hub website here.

Meanwhile, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce expects the UK’s departure from the EU to have little or no immediate impact on Cumbrian businesses.

Chamber Chief Executive Rob Johnston said: “Brexit day is symbolic rather than substantive.

“The Withdrawal Agreement means that the UK will enter a transition period where we stay within the EU Single Market and Customs Union. It will be business as usual.

“The crunch comes when the transition period ends on December 31. If the UK hasn’t negotiated a new trading agreement with the EU by then, there will be major changes.

“We’ll be monitoring the progress of trade talks closely and working with businesses to ensure they are prepared for whatever scenario unfolds.”

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce