A new helpline set up to help Kent businesses during the Covid-19 crisis has received more than 800 calls in its first five days.
The Covid-19 Business Helpline has been launched by the Kent and Medway Growth Hub, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce’s support service run on behalf of Kent County Council and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.
The line has a dedicated team of six call handlers backed up by eight business advisors – each working from home – who can answer detailed enquiries by phone or video conferencing which are specific to the individual business.
The new service, which will initially operate for the next three months, has been made possible thanks to the financial support of Kent County Council and local authorities across the county, after being approached by the county council’s Chamber.
The helpline team have been handling frequently answered questions to speed up the support while more complex issues have been forwarded to the team of business advisors.
All the advisors are up to speed with the latest government advice as well as getting daily updates from a variety of public and private sector sources.
Of the 800 calls in the first few days, after its soft launch more than 500 were passed to the business advisors who have been tasked with responding within 48 hours.
Cllr Mike Whiting, KCC’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “The Government has stepped up to support businesses and the self-employed. We also recognised there was a local need and wanted to make sure there was additional support for those businesses wrestling with the issues impacting on their employees, customers and supply chain.
“The Growth Hub had the infrastructure in place and combined with Kent Invicta, were the obvious choice as our partner on this vital economic initiative.”
Jo James, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “As the scale of the impact on business became clear we knew we needed to develop a service to help local firms struggling to get to grips with the speed of the changes.
“Thanks to the financial support of Kent County Council and every one of the local authorities, the Growth Hub is now able to provide a vital countywide support service.”
Organisers expect the issues facing businesses will change over the next three months, with the hope that the virus will be brought under control and firms can look to how best to recover.
To contact the team at the Covid-19 Business Helpline call 03333 602300 between 08.30am and 5pm | Monday to Friday.
You can also find out more by visiting kentandmedwaygrowthhub.org.uk