A RECOVERY plan has been launched to help businesses in the Solent survive the coronavirus crisis and succeed in the post-Covid world.

Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) says its plan will help firms through the next 12 months and then support them in adapting to the “new normal”.

It is seeking money from a government spending review towards key elements of its Economic Recovery Plan, including:

  • Establishing the Solent as a “tourism zone”, to coordinate its offering to visitors and boost the off-season economy.
  • Enhancing the LEP’s programme of support for SMEs through the Solent Growth Hub.
  • Expanding the Solent Apprenticeship Hub and continuing its Careers Hub.
  • A Solent Growth and Recovery Fund to fuel investment in jobs, homes and the green economy.
  • Turning the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth into “freeports”, where imported goods can be used and re-exported without the full tariffs and regulations.

Brian Johnson, chair of the Solent LEP, said: “Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic and associated public health restrictions have had an immense impact on all our businesses and communities, we recognise that businesses are being impacted in different ways and on different timeframes.

“The Economic Recovery Plan will help shape our activity to support local businesses throughout each phase of their recovery and we are looking to government to help us continue and strengthen this support across the region.

“Additional support is particularly critical now as we enter the winter period; we welcome the government’s Winter Economic Plan and stand ready to work with government to support our businesses through the challenging months ahead.”

The plan is split into three stages – “survival”, “stability” and “growth”.

It looks to build on existing measures including the LEP’s small business recovery grants, its Pay It Forward support for crowdfunded campaigns, its rural resilience funds for the New Forest and the Isle of Wight, and its Restart, Restore and Recover loan fund.

Mr Johnson said: “Our immediate focus and priorities in delivering our Economic Recovery Plan are on immediate survival and recovery over the next two years. However, we remain fully committed to securing the long-term growth and prosperity of the Solent.

“The plan represents the first steps on our journey to 2050 and vision for the Solent to be the global leader in maritime and climate change adaptation, with towns and cities that are fantastic places to live, trade and with opportunities for all our communities to flourish.”

The plan can be found at solentlep.org.uk