IFA member Cyd Smith discusses the positives and negative business situations occurring in the North East of England, and how getting small business back on its feet is vital for the UK economy.
Tell us about your roles and responsibilities
There are three of us at CS Accounting, doing everything we can for small businesses. I’m effectively the managing director. We mostly deal with small business accounts and tax, with some personal tax work, and support for charities. We’ve been here since 1992 – and things have changed quite dramatically in that time.
What’s the current business and economic environment in the North East?
The area lost all its heavy industry; mines and shipyards went in the back end of the 1980s. It was replaced with a lot of more admin-type jobs such as call centres. There has been lots of development in the area more recently. There are huge plans to develop what was the Middlesbrough steel works into a major manufacturing centre. Amazon has almost completed a major warehouse development south of Durham, and Nissan has seen a lot of supply chain build up around it.
The first few weeks post-lockdown saw everyone in shock. Then the schemes were launched, which kept us all very busy – as much with moral support as admin. Most businesses are back to work though quite a few not fully; there are still a number with furloughed staff . It’s hard to say how many will survive – in general an awful lot of small businesses haven’t gauged their viability in the current environment. I think there will be other casualties along the line.
How does the IFA work with business, people and the community?
As a group, it’s useful to have contacts to be able to refer to if you have problems. At our meetings we get great speakers to discuss relevant matters and keep IFA members up to date. On a wider scale it’s nice to be able to have a profile here for small businesses so they know that, as an institute, we specialise in their kind of business.
REGION IN FOCUS: NORTH EAST
As the IFA’s Newcastle-upon-Tyne branch ambassador Cyd Smith has suggested there are broad positives coming out of the region in terms of developments, but the pandemic has had a huge impact on smaller businesses in the area. Amazon’s first warehouse, or fulfilment centre, opened earlier this year, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to the region.
There has been speculation about Nissan building Renault cars at its Sunderland site – however, there are grave concerns that a no-deal Brexit will see the plant shut down. The North East England Chamber of Commerce’s recent survey found that the lockdown had impacted business hugely – with less than a quarter of business operating at full capacity during Q2 2020.
- North East business leaders have launched a fund to support local business recovery from the impact of the pandemic. The Open North Foundation has raised finance that it will offer in grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to support small businesses with little resource available.
- Sage has a new UK and Ireland chief, following the departure of Sabby Gill into a new role within the accounting software giant. Paul Struthers takes on the reins having served in other positions for the business.
- A new multi-million pound project at the Teesworks site could create up to 25 additional jobs. The proposal includes redevelopment of a 50-acre site around the ex-Metal Recovery Area in South Bank.
- BAM Construction has been appointed to deliver The Northern School of Art in Middlesbrough. The £14.5m scheme has seen BAM chosen to build the premises, which will house 750 students. The school is relocating from its current 1960s premises.