By Rob Lawley, head of International Trade at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce
The Chambers’ Rural Business Forum is one of 10 specialist interest forums and it exists to promote the interests of the rural business sector in Staffordshire. Rural business includes agriculture, forestry & fishing, rural tourism & leisure, agri-tech as well as any other business in a rural area.
The forum is chaired by Marcus Roberts; director at South Staffordshire College and it champions and lobbies for specific strategies and policies that will benefit members and ensure the rural sector has a stronger voice in our community.
Staffordshire is a largely rural area which is relatively affluent but with a few notable pockets of high deprivation and poor access to services.
There is quite a list of challenges facing rural businesses at present including access to funding; rural and cyber-crime; broadband; networking and links to the curriculum.
Rural communities do not share the luxury of connectivity and networks as their counterparts in urban areas and this situation has been exacerbated throughout the pandemic by the lack of physical social contact, for example a conversation at the local pub or Young Farmers meeting simply has not been happening.
Jeremy Lowe from the NFU is an active member of the Rural Business Forum. In his role as county advisor for Staffordshire he can listen to rural businesses and employ resources to effectively work on their behalf across all sectors.
Jeremy is currently doing a lot of work with schools and colleges in the county to make sure that farming and rural business is on the curricular and extra-curricular radar, so that we are not only increasing awareness, but bringing on the next generation of the workforce with the appropriate skills and knowledge to meet the demands of a changing rural business landscape.
Rural crime has also sadly increased with the pandemic as increased poverty has led to an increase in thefts of equipment and livestock.
Staffordshire Police are invited to the forum so that we can work towards raising awareness and preventative measures to curb this upward trend of criminal activity.
The next online meeting of the Rural Business Forum is on Wednesday 13th July at 0900 and so if you are a business in a rural area and would like to come along you can click here to book your place: https://bit.ly/3wwrWyZ
If you are interested in finding out more about the Rural Business Forum, please contact Vicky Frost at the Chamber: firstname.lastname@example.org
Trading with the EU post Brexit
It is now just over six months since the UK left the EU Customs Union and it has been a challenging period for many businesses.
Navigating the new rules and regulations required to move goods into and out of the EU has become part of trading internationally.
Perhaps the most significant change is that Customs Declarations are now required. At the Chamber we invested significant amounts of time and resource as part of a three-year plan so that we can act as a Customs Broker for local businesses.
I am proud to say that since 1st January 2021 we have processed over 1,500 Customs Declarations which makes us the second busiest Chamber across the whole Chamber network. We have been highlighted as a model for best practice and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) use our team to pilot initiatives such as Transit Documents, Northern Ireland Declarations, and new software.
If any business reading this would like to know how we can support them with trading in this new regime, please call our International Trade Team on 01782 224405
If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: email@example.com