Sara’s Blog: Reaction to GDP figures and #IAmOpen

I was hoping to end the week with a lighter blog, as I usually like to on a Friday. However, the publication of the UK GDP figures for April, showing a fall over thirty times the average month on month decline during the global financial crisis, reveal the stark economic impact of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.

With lockdown restrictions gradually easing and shops beginning to reopen, April is likely to prove to be the low point for the UK economy. However, the any prospect of a ‘V-shaped’ recovery remains unlikely, with many sectors continuing to operate at reduced capacity.

For example, tourism and hospitality businesses, many of whom will remain closed for some time and will require flexible and open-ended government support to weather the economic storm.

Over the coming months we will be working closely with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to urge the Government to take further actions to lessen the impact of the pandemic and kick-start a recovery. This will include extending support packages and stimulating consumer demand and business investment.

On a much more optimistic note, I was delighted this week to provide our input to a great new campaign by the Sentinel entitled #IAmOpen.

The Sentinel and StokeonTrentLive have launched the #IAmOpen campaign to support local businesses left counting the cost of lockdown.

It gave me an opportunity to write down all the great business support initiatives we have put in place since lockdown. Such as; proactively telephoning businesses to see what assistance they needed; moving our entire event and training programmes online as webinars, forums and seminars; dealing with thousands of finance and grant enquiries and applications and importantly, the Chambers having a direct voice to top level policy-makers to influence government policy as effects of the lockdown unfolded.

All you need to do to take part in #IAmOpen is to tweet to @sotlive with a photograph standing outside or inside the business with an #IAMOpen sign, also including the hashtag #IAMOpen in the tweet. You can also send any positive stories to Sentinel business editor, Laura Watson –

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002. We also have a Twitter hour each Tuesday and Friday from 11am – 12noon #StaffsChamberChat

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