As part of The Big Conversation, we ran a series of virtual events to explore the best road to recovery for regions across the UK.  

Executive summary

On 5 November 2020, stakeholders from the East Midlands gathered as part of Lloyds Banking Group’s Big Conversation to discuss the challenges, opportunities and critical areas of support needed to support SMEs in their ability to take on new employees and help them move from survival mode to growth and prosperity in the future.

The key issues discussed were:

  • Innovation and new talent are critical to growth, but many busineses are only able to focus on survival.
  • Many SMEs are unaware of the types of support available to them and how to access them.
  • The fallout from Covid-19 and the EU transition will change the business landscape.
  • Integrated and clearly signposted advice services will support SMEs to grow and innovate.
  • Greater collaboration can help better identify and address SMEs' training needs.
  • Financial incentives and relief can help increase the uptake of new talent.

Event attendees


Amanda Dorel, Lloyds Banking Group, Regional Director, Midlands, SME Banking

Jane Hunt MP, Loughborough 

Chris White, Manufacturing Technology Centre, Director

Dave Atkinson, Lloyds Banking Group, UK Head of Manufacturing - SME & Mid Corporate

David Pearson, East Midlands Chamber, Director of Partnerships

Jim Hubbard, CBI, Head of Regional Policy

John Thorpe, Thorpes Joinery Limited, Managing Director

Kathryn Marshall, Lloyds Banking Group, Apprenticeships Senior Manager

Louise Sunderland, Be the Business, Director of Programmes

Mandip Rai, Leicester LEN, CEO

Sajeeda Rose, D2N2 LEN, CEO

Watch the event highlights

Challenges and opportunities


 

Innovation and new talent are critical to growth, but many businesses are only able to focus on survival. 

  • The impact of the pandemic means businesses are focused on the immediate term and being able to operate, rather than long-term planning and innovation.
  • SMEs currently have high fixed costs and have even less room to invest in R&D and new talent, which are seen as solutions for growth and diversification.

Many SMEs are unaware of the types of support available and how to access them. 

  • Many businesses are unaware of the plethora of schemes and support services open to them, and also how these would match their needs.
  • Support services are often disparate and hard to access.

Fallout from COVID-19 and the EU transition will greatly change the business landscape.

  • SMEs will need to adapt to a new landscape including the shift to digital, remote working and a need to pivot business models.
  • Uncertainty about the EU has impacted investor confidence and will pose challenges going forward.
     
""

"Collaboration between business, and education and training providers. It's important that businesses have the opportunity to shape the curriculum." 

 

Mandip Rai, LEN

Solutions to unlock potential


 

Integrated and clearly signposted advice services will support SMEs to grow and innovate. 

  • Increasing awareness of existing financial support, and offering business advisory services will help SMEs stay afloat, and create space for them to think long-term and adapt.
  • Growth Hubs with centralised information and resources can play a leading role in supporting businesses in the East Midlands.
     

"We need better connectivity. It's about getting to understand the skills that people need, the skills that SMEs need, and matching the two."

 

Jane Hunt, MP

""

Greater collaboration can help better identify and address SMEs’ training needs. 

  • Improving connectivity between young people, skills providers and local authorities can help develop talent that matches local industries. Skills hubs in Loughborough are seen as a foundation to build upon.
  • Businesses working together with education providers to shape curricula can help ensure young people develop the skills necessary to participate in the modern economy.

Financial incentives will help increase the uptake of new talent.

  • Financial incentives such as tax credits as well as raising awareness of the Apprenticeship Levy will help improve SME uptake of new talent.

""

Read about how we've been getting to the heart of what the UK's people, businesses and communities need to emerge stronger and better than before, and see the other regional event summaries.

Find out more