Lloyds Banking Group has recently unveiled The Big Conversation: Helping Britain Recover report which harnesses insights gathered from business leaders, policy-makers, and community leaders around the UK and highlights strong calls from stakeholders for a bespoke devolved approach to the economic recovery.
The report follows the Group convening 22 discussions with over 900 local businesses, industry leaders, politicians and experts across the UK’s nations and regions. In Wales, the event From Crisis to Recovery: Building Resilience in Wales, speakers including Ben Lake MP for Ceredigion and Tonia Antoniazzi MP for Gower, discussed how open and honest conversations about household finances can build financial literacy and encourage people to find debt support. A particular focus of the conversation was how financial education could and help build confidence and empower individuals to better manage their finances.
Lloyds Banking Group used its network to bring together participants at a time when listening, sharing experiences and a sense of community is even more important than ever before. These roundtables were hosted virtually over three months and saw panels come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities they’ve faced this year and share ideas for building a sustainable recovery across the UK.
At UK level, the conversations explored the critical areas of support needed to help rebuild communities and inform public policy and also identified emerging consensus on what is required to support the UK’s recovery. The insights will help shape future Group strategy. Discussions focused on support for SMEs, digital skills, agriculture, housing, household finances, electric vehicles and sustainability.
In the process of sharing experiences, stories of outstanding resilience emerged: business models pivoting to exploit online retail opportunities, production lines integrating social distancing measures and employees retraining in digital skills to equip them, and their firms, for the future. A clear consensus that collaboration and innovation must be at the heart of the recovery came to the fore.
Nicola Bannister, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Wales, said:
“The pandemic has put additional strain on many household finances across Wales. But on top of this, it was clear from our discussions with key Welsh stakeholders that many people don’t realise the gravitas of their financial situation until it’s too late.
“As such, encouraging open and honest conversations about finances, while implementing more formal financial literacy into the education system and support services, are both important for setting families up for recovery post-pandemic.”
The politicians, businesses, campaigners and community leaders involved in the events made it clear that they want to see regionally focused recovery strategies, shaped by local voices for local economies, to ensure the right solutions are put in place.
António Horta-Osório, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group, said:
“After nearly a year of huge upheaval for our personal and professional lives, we know that it’s more important than ever that we all take the time to listen. Given our depth of expertise and our presence across the UK’s nations and regions, we were able to bring together a vibrant network of businesses, industry experts and MPs so we could all listen and learn from each other’s experiences.
“A huge amount was discussed in the course of The Big Conversation, but a few themes became particularly clear. For me, the most striking of which was that while there were many shared experiences among businesses in certain sectors, the largest differences were in the experiences of businesses and communities in different geographies. This makes a tailored, regionally-led and regionally-informed approach to our national recovery essential.”
Examples of How Some Businesses Responded to the Challenges they Faced Due to Covid-19:
Tiny Rebel Brewery saw 90% of their trade disappear when lockdown forced bars and restaurants to close their doors to the public. They had to make quick decisions about how to keep their business going. One of their first moves was to drastically scale up their online retail arm, which allowed them to grow their presence in household retailers like Sainsburys and Waitrose. By switching focus, Tiny Rebel saw a 575% growth in revenue from online sales during lockdown, highlighting the benefit of a strong digital offer in the current climate.