BCC says the suspension of tariffs is welcome news but more must be done to resolve the long-running dispute
We’re proud to recognise Business Heroes across the UK.
We launched the campaign to recognise the incredible work that UK businesses are doing, in the most challenging of years. We're pleased to say that we've received some fantastic stories about businesses and individuals across the UK.
We’re paying tribute to them and recognising their contributions by giving them our UK Business Heroes stamp which demonstrates that that they have gone the extra mile to support their local community during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Below is just a selection of the hundreds of stories we’ve heard from businesses up and down the country, in different sectors, sizes and locations.
In the face of the sudden drop in tourism, two hotels and an aparthotel have kept their doors open to help key workers in the Greater Manchester area. Hotel Football, Stock Exchange Hotel and Native Manchester, members of Greater Manchester Chamber, offered free stays to all NHS employees, including medical professionals and healthcare workers, and other essential workers such as the police force and the region’s emergency services.
Edinburgh-based hand sanitiser producer ClearWater Hygiene, a member of Edinburgh Chamber, has launched Track Trace + Monitor, a new tracking and monitoring service to help businesses stop the spread of Coronavirus.
The service, which is compatible with NHS systems, aims to help pubs, restaurants, shops and other customer-facing businesses better control the spread of the pandemic and minimise the potential of further lockdowns.
Temporary hospitals have been erected at great speed across the UK to help deal with Coronavirus patients. Balfour Beatty, member of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, acted as the Principal Contractor to deliver Scotland's NHS Louisa Jordan in just two weeks.
This 300-bed clinical facility can accommodate up to 1,036 patients if needed and is housed within Scotland’s largest exhibition centre, Glasgow’s SEC.
NPTC Group of Colleges in South Wales, member of South and Mid Wales Chamber of Commerce, helped their local NHS trust by transforming one of their sites, the Llandarcy Academy of Sport, into a fully equipped 340-bed field hospital in just over three weeks, with wards set up in the sports hall, gym and barn.
This provided crucial extra beds, in addition to those created in the local hospitals, as outpatient and other clinical sites were quickly redesigned to meet the challenges of the Coronavirus outbreak. As part of their support they also prepared food for NHS staff and patients using college kitchen facilities.
On 14 March, with the UK about to be placed in lockdown, Cogent Technology, members of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, was approached by UK government to support the UK Ventilator Challenge.
With a prediction of 30,000 ventilators required, Cogent Technology was contracted to rapidly manufacture over 13,500 units within a 12-week window.
Despite many different trials and challenges the team at Cogent created a dedicated production line within just 5 weeks.
When the pandemic hit, the priority for Woodland Group, members of Essex Chambers of Commerce, was to create and maintain safe environments for its essential workers moving goods on the roads and their warehouse teams directly involved in the ongoing running of supply chains.
All office staff switched to home working and contact-free systems were put in place for all truck deliveries to our warehouses, with visiting drivers staying inside their vehicle for contact-free handover of goods and documents. Increased social distancing rules, PPE and hygiene guidance were introduced and staff rotation groups formed to create mini ‘bubbles’ to keep teams safe.
PDS (CNC) Engineering Ltd, member of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, have been significantly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic like many other businesses. They had to furlough some staff and needed to set up separate ‘employee bubbles’ for those who were still working, in order to continue production. They also responded to the UK government’s call for ventilator supplies.
Alongside this, they set up a new COVID-19 manufacturing cluster for the Lancashire and South Cumbria region. This included an online portal which provided a gateway for local manufacturers to list their products and types of manufacturing skills on offer and match them to the known and emerging needs from the NHS.
As the pandemic began to affect the country in early March 2020, Tharsus, members of North East England Chamber, turned their experience of tackling corporate challenges to an assault of their own against Coronavirus in the North East.
In just 12 weeks and under lockdown conditions, a specially chosen multi- discipline Tharsus team took a unique social distancing system from initial idea to working reality. The result could be quickly and widely deployed to support themselves and organisations around them to keep people working safely.
The staff from The Sheffield College, member of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, went above and beyond before, during and after lockdown.
In March 2020, the College took decisive action at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and was the first FE college in England to announce the move to remote teaching and working.
All parts of the organisation pulled together to enable college life to continue, albeit remotely, supporting a diverse community including 16 to 18 year olds, adult learners and apprentices.
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on communities across the country and the closure of schools for months has meant that families have had to turn to home schooling. In response to this Rolls-Royce, multinational engineering company and member of East Midlands Chamber, has worked to support home schooling efforts by creating a range of educational STEM activities for children.
As well as producing their own downloadable STEM resources, the
company also partnered with Tech We Can, an online tech lessons portal,
to help parents and carers access 12 free digital lesson plans to help
teach children at home.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, Denroy Plastics, a member of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, joined a not-for-profit called HeroShield, a collective of Northern Ireland companies committed to helping frontline workers in the time of crisis.
Denroy utilised its innovation skills in high-tech, critical polymer components and established technical abilities to manufacture a range of PPE products under its DenPro brand.
Ring and Ride is a door-to-door transport service for anyone who lives in the West Midlands who finds it difficult to use normal public transport. It is operated by National Express Accessible Transport (NEAT) for Transport for West Midlands, a member of Black Country Chamber of Commerce.
During lockdown, many of the elderly and vulnerable customers who normally use Ring and Ride were advised to stay at home, meaning that NEAT had spare capacity. They identified an opportunity to use their unused minibuses and drivers to help NHS staff during the pandemic.
When the Coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of football fixtures, Tranmere Rovers Football Club, member of Wirral Chamber of Commerce turned its efforts to a massive community support effort.
Partnering with local charity, Helplink, they donated 35,000 food parcels and provided 1,000 cooked meals to those who were shielding and unable to cook for themselves. The Club also made over 1,000 support phone calls to vulnerable people, and collected or delivered 1,200 prescriptions and shopping orders to those who were shielding.
In response to Coronavirus, Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce member, The Cart Shed Charity created a ‘virtual woodland’, to support over 100 individuals during lockdown who were at a high risk of suicide and self-harm.
The Cart Shed created - at speed - a meaningful programme that delivered a first-class, remote, mental health ‘therapeutic woodland’ service to their existing client group and a group of new clients who couldn’t previously access their service.
Keen to support the NHS in the early stages of the pandemic, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce member Access Covers created hundreds of bright yellow t-shirts featuring the slogan ‘We Love Our NHS Heroes’.
The profits from the t-shirts supported the Staff Wellbeing (Wobble) Rooms at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, in order to bring comfort to the medical staff during their break times.
New Director-General, Shevaun Haviland, says action is needed to boost UK trade, unlock the blockages in the skills training system and build a greener and more sustainable economy.
BCC says businesses will welcome the Agreement in Principle as a positive step forward but there is a long way to go before a free trade deal is signed.
Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses will be disappointed by this setback to the reopening in England. This delay to the removal of restrictions will come as a hammer blow to those firms who must remain closed, and to those who continue to see their ability to trade severely restricted.