Businesses, residents and the tourism industry in Northumberland are to benefit from a £1.5 million funding boost as the county continues to recover from the coronavirus lockdown.

Last month the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) pledged £5 million to help businesses and communities in the North of Tyne respond to Covid-19. Grants of £1.5 million from the Covid-19 Capacity Fund were secured by Northumberland County Council, along with North Tyneside and Newcastle City Council to spend as they see fit to meet local needs.

In Northumberland, the two main elements are an allocation of £970,000 to be coordinated through the Northumberland Business Support Hub and an allocation of £530,000 for employment and skills support. The Business Hub support includes £230,000 which will allow the county council and Northumberland Tourism to work together on a range of initiatives to revitalise one of the county’s main economic drivers. These include:

  • The development  of a free COVID-19 online toolkit for tourism businesses to assist compliance with social distancing measures for both visitors and staff.
  • A free enhanced listing for up to 1,300 businesses on a new digital tourism platform.
  • The ability to fund specific Northumberland marketing activity and buy in to national and international opportunities to optimise Northumberland’s position as lockdown and travel restrictions ease.
  • Capacity to work with tourism partners and stakeholders to promote  best practice and ensure a coherent approach to recovery.

The remaining Business Hub Support includes £460,000 to develop digital trading to help businesses prepare for the future, and £280,000 to provide technical and professional services to businesses to help them recover and thrive going forward. The employment and skills funding will see hundreds of residents accessing a range of employment, mental health and wellbeing support and grants to scores of voluntary and community sector organisations providing employability, skills and inclusion services.

North of Tyne Cabinet member for place and productivity and Leader of Northumberland County Council Cllr Peter Jackson

North of Tyne Cabinet member for place and productivity and Leader of Northumberland County Council Cllr Peter Jackson said: “This has been an extremely challenging time not just for all our residents, but also our businesses and employers, and we want to assure them we are doing everything we possibly can to provide help and support both now and in the future. This funding will allow us to target some of our key areas which have suffered so badly over recent months since the country went into lockdown, support hundreds of businesses and residents as measures begin to ease, and we continue to look forward to Northumberland’s economic recovery.”

Bamburgh Castle at sunset

Cllr Cath Homer, Northumberland County Council cabinet member for Culture, Art, Leisure and Tourism, added: “Tourism is absolutely crucial to Northumberland’s economy, and this investment will play a big role in getting the sector back on its feet, and re-establish itself as one of the top UK destinations. Whilst this sector has been one of the hardest hit by the crisis, there is so much to look forward to and actually opportunities that are available to us, which we must grasp firmly with both hands as part of our recovery plans. We’ve invested significantly in a new digital presence for tourism in Northumberland, and a new brand and marketing campaign are ready to launch when lockdown is lifted. The new normal for tourism looks very different, and we’re developing exciting plans for its future, when the time is right.”

Further details will be provided to businesses over the coming weeks and months.