Good connectivity “necessary” to support the recovery of the East
Digital connectivity is going to be essential as East England begins to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a leading regional banker.
Matt Hubbard, who is the Lloyds Banking Group ambassador for the East of England, said the need for connectivity for businesses and individuals has been underlined by the pandemic, which has led to work from home at large scale.
This exposed the “digital divide” and the region’s infrastructure challenges, which must be addressed to enable it to emerge from its economic slump, he said.
“Covid has been a catalyst for change and has accelerated it. One of the things he accelerated was the digital channel for people to do business and supply chains to work and do business together, ”he said. “For the East of England it is of course another challenge.
Mr Hubbard – who lives in Ufford near the Suffolk coast – explained how his own experience mirrored that of many people living and working in a largely rural area.
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“If I go to Woodbridge all the bars on my phone die,” he said. “For businesses to be competitive and to be successful, they need digital connectivity. “
He added: “There is a provision of digital connectivity. It also helps everyone acquire the skills to be able to interact and use digital platforms in the best possible way. “
During the crisis, adaptability has become the watchword for companies that have been forced to think deeply about what they are doing and why, the banker said.
“I think it has allowed companies to take a step back and ask who their customers are. “
The crisis has opened up opportunities to approach business in a different way, with the location of the company’s workforce now a more fluid factor – which could potentially benefit East Anglia and some of its workers who make the shift. shuttle to London, he said. Workplaces may well change as a result, he predicted.
He stressed the importance of taking a step back from business and developing a strategy. Businesses need to look at this in terms of long-term sustainability, he said.
For the region’s large food and agricultural sector, a joint approach to the ‘still evolving’ problem was needed, with the agricultural sector, the broader business sector, the supply chain, energy providers, business, government and academics all working together.
“My own thoughts are that I think it will take bold steps to advance sustainability at large,” he said.
But reaching a Brexit deal has brought some certainty and stability to the companies to rely on, he added.
Lloyds Banking Group has so far provided over £ 12 billion in loans through government coronavirus support programs to more than 300,000 UK businesses. The Bounce Back Loan Program and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Program are replaced by a payback loan program offering loans of £ 25,000 to £ 10million through the end of the year, with a government guarantee of 80%.
“We don’t know what the second half of the year will bring. I think what we have done is to be there alongside all sectors to engage and support. We’re here for the long haul with customers and of course this crisis has been huge, absolutely huge, but it’s not the first financial crisis we have to overcome, ”said Mr. Hubbard.