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Barclays has today launched a toolkit to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across Scotland and the UK as they navigate the uncertainty created by Coronavirus.

The Barclays Back to Business programme has been designed in partnership with the Cambridge Judge Business School and is open to all UK SMEs, in addition to the bank’s one million small business customers.

With nearly two thirds of businesses* (65 per cent) reporting that they will change their business practises in response to coronavirus, the bank hopes that the programme will provide SMEs with the support they need to adapt.

The toolkit has been piloted with one hundred businesses from different sectors over the last few weeks ahead of a full trial launch on 22 June, with everyone from farmers to hairdressers trialling the programme.

The kit is designed to help business owners assess the overall health of their enterprise, and create a tailored resilience plan for challenging periods. It is packed with practical tools including a working capital calculator, cash flow forecasts, and guidance on managing supply chain relationships.

Rob McKenna, Finance Director of MRM Global, a marketing technology company based in Edinburgh who took part in the trial, said: “The coronavirus lockdown has had a big impact on our business, however the Back to Business toolkit has provided us with the valuable tools to re-assess and formulate our international recovery plan. As a fast growing SME, these are very timely and appropriate resources. Many modules forced us to critique and closely analyse what we currently do and how we do it. Some great takeaway content that we will use and refer to with the rest of the Senior Management Team in the months ahead.”

Christoph Loch, Director of Cambridge Judge Business School, said: “Many entrepreneurs and businesses will be looking for new opportunities during this time, and we know they’ll be asking themselves what their strategy should be as they look to adapt to best serve their customers. During the online programme, we’ll lead businesses through that thinking, stepping away from the day to day operations to look at the opportunities and a longer term strategy with the help of our business toolkit.”

Stuart Brown, Head of Branch and Business Banking, Scotland at Barclays, said: “We’re focused on supporting Scottish businesses, entrepreneurs, and sole traders through the challenges of coronavirus. We are always looking at new ways to assist business owners and are therefore pleased to provide a platform for them to access key resources and hone their skills. This will help them shape their businesses to deal with the impact of coronavirus, as well as the new ways of working beyond it.”

The toolkit is the latest measure in a package of support rolled out by the High Street bank to support SMEs during this time. Barclays has facilitated £16.7 billion into the economy through Government lending schemes**, delivering vital aid to businesses during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the bank also launched a ‘Get Local’ partnership with social networking platform NextDoor, the neighbourhood hub, to help SMEs promote their skills and services to their local community in a safe way, and let them know that they are open for business.

Businesses can find out more about the Back to Business toolkit and sign up here.

Bethany Wright
Article by Bethany Wright
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