Pembrokeshire online business forum weighs up Covid-19 impact

An online meeting of Pembrokeshire businesses has shone a spotlight on the impact that Covid-19 is having on the local economy.  

Using video conferencing, local MP Stephen Crabb assembled a forum of 17 key businesses, along with Welsh Parliament Member Paul Davies and representatives from Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire College, to discuss the impact of the pandemic on local firms. Businesses included building merchants and contractors, manufacturers, food producers, software developers, tourism and transport firms.

The conference call was organised by the Preseli MP as a way for the County’s key employers to meet together whilst adhering to the government guidance. It gave businesses the opportunity to speak directly to their MP, raising their experiences of running businesses during these unprecedented times.

Following the meeting, Stephen Crabb said:

“Coronavirus has sent shockwaves through our local economy with many businesses closing overnight as the country ground to a halt under lockdown. Numerous support packages have been announced by UK and Welsh government. But while some businesses have been able to get support quickly, others have run into a brick wall. Hearing first-hand feedback on the way these schemes are working is vital if we are going to work out which businesses are falling through the gaps.”

“Pembrokeshire’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic and the future is far from clear. We need our local firms to come through this crisis and help rebuild the economy on the other side.  It has never been more important for all tiers of government to be listening to those who work incredibly hard to create and sustain jobs in our community.”

Paul Davies MS added: “The Forum was a great opportunity to hear first-hand some of the challenges that businesses across Pembrokeshire are facing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and that feedback is invaluable in making representations to the Welsh Government.  I’ll continue to raise the issues faced by local businesses with the First Minister at every opportunity as it’s clear that more work needs to be done to address the gaps in the Government’s business support packages.”

“The economic impact of Covid-19 is huge and if significant changes aren’t made, then many local businesses will simply not be able to weather this storm. These are unprecedented times and we’ve all got to work together to mitigate the impact that coronavirus is having on our local economy and our communities. I’ll certainly be doing everything in my power to raise the concerns of local businesses and I’ll continue to encourage the Welsh Government to provide further support, where it can, to those sectors that are most vulnerable.”

The Welsh Affairs Select committee, chaired by Stephen Crabb, is seeking evidence from Welsh businesses who have been impacted by coronavirus. If your business would like to submit evidence, please visit https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=nt3mHDeziEC-Xo277ASzSsdf6aRbb_hHi61kcnJ3-KJUNEpKUVQ3ODkxU0tTQUdVV05ZMFhYRFozRy4u before the survey closes at 5pm on May 15th.

UK-wide, 6.3 million workers have been furloughed since the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme opened on April 20, with 800,000 companies making use of the scheme. The Bounce Back Loan scheme which opened Monday (May 4) saw more than 100,000 applications in its first day. Further conference calls with the tourism hospitality sector and the charity sector will be held in the coming weeks.