Supporting members amidst COVID-19 with critical business webinars and best practice

The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) is providing comprehensive support to its members and Supply Chain North East participants during the Corona virus pandemic. The power of the cluster, its cohesive nature and agility is clearly demonstrated through the range of activities undertaken by the NEAA at the outset of the pandemic.

The NEAA has established an Emergency Response Group with its Advisory Board sharing information on global response strategies, market intelligence and best practice for re-start planning, to ensure the sector can provide a safe working environment for its employees that meets social distancing requirements. This intelligence has been cascaded across the network and to wider industry bodies.

The alliance has acted as a conduit to link stakeholders such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for International Trade (DiT) and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and members, providing key intelligence and feedback on policy discussions and announcements. It has been in regular discussion with key automotive clusters across the UK including The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), providing an insight to the challenges faced by regional companies and sharing business support best practice.

The region was also quick to react to the calls for ventilator production and more recent calls to provide much needed PPE equipment for frontline services. There are many excellent examples of the responsiveness and agility of the region’s automotive sector to adapt manufacturing processes to support and contribute to the national COVID-19 response. It is now taking its support for members to the next stage with a busy schedule of COVID-19 response webinars covering critical business issues and updated guidance and policy.

Paul Butler, CEO, North East Automotive Alliance, said: “During times of crisis the work of a cluster is paramount. Our collective strength and the established communication routes have never been so important, initially to support the survival of companies and then to help with the level of preparedness for when we come out of this crisis.”

The NEAA has hosted a number of webinars for members which have highlighted fundamental areas to be addressed during this time. With an excellent turn out, they have been well received and have provided topical information in the form of a health and safety webinar by Womble Bond Dickson, furlough guidance by MHA Tait Walker and a COVID-19 testing webinar by Recovery4Life. Further webinars are planned, with a COVID-19 Managing Costs and Cash Planning on Tuesday 28 April followed by a Mindfulness Webinar with ARK Associates on Wednesday 29 April and more to follow in May.

Alastair Wilson, tax partner at MHA Tait Walker, said: “As new members of the North East Automotive Alliance we have been delighted to help host a number of webinars covering everything from furloughing of staff to cash planning and tax implications. We hope that the advice and support we have been able to provide has helped address some of the challenges the industry is currently facing during these difficult times.”

Butler continued: “Now more than ever, there is a need for us all to collaborate and I am proud of the great work that companies in the North East automotive sector are doing to drive this effort forward.”

The responsiveness of the NEAA during COVID-19 is endorsed by NEAA member AVID Technology, who has been an active participant in many of the subject webinars.

Iain Young, director at AVID Technology, said: “The NEAA team has continued to be at the forefront in keeping its members fully up-to-date with Government and industry guidelines as well as providing sound advice on how to effectively manage business during these unprecedented times. The timely delivery of webinars by NEAA on topical subjects such as job retention scheme and force majeure has been invaluable for SMEs such as AVID Technology.”