Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) is offering its support to help businesses to move forward from one of the most challenging financial years on record.

CLEP’s role, as a business-led organisation, is to determine local economic priorities, advocate on behalf of Cumbria and to deliver activities that will support the economy and businesses to recover from the pandemic and move forward with Cumbria’s growth ambitions.

The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of the EU Transition Period has meant that many businesses might welcome support in navigating the changes, going forward.

“Last year was a year unlike any other. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was felt locally, nationally and globally, and as 2021 unfolds, the health challenges continue to have significant repercussions for the economy, businesses and jobs throughout the UK” said CLEP Chief Executive Jo Lappin.

“We want all of our businesses to know that we are here for them, whatever type of support they need. Despite unprecedented challenges, we have seen businesses, communities and Cumbria as a whole pull together to support each other. We recognise that there is still a way to go to see the economy return to pre-pandemic levels, but for many of our businesses that journey has already started.”

Whitehaven News: CLEP Chief Executive Jo LappinCLEP Chief Executive Jo Lappin

Cumbria’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from a range of support, which includes free expert accountancy and legal support, alongside more general advice on how businesses can prepare not only to survive in 2021 but also to thrive.

CLEP is offering free, dedicated, one-to-one support to help businesses, which includes:

• Up to three hours expert accountancy and legal support, alongside more general advice on how businesses can prepare to survive and thrive during 2021;

• Guidance on doing business following the end of the EU Transition period to make sure that your business can continue to effectively trade;

• Assistance from a Department of International Trade (DIT) Advisor to help your business export and grow into global markets.

CLEP has been at the heart of efforts across Cumbria to lead economic recovery, which saw Jo appointed as Chair of Cumbria’s Business and Economic Response and Recovery Group, the body responsible for developing the response to COVID-19 and importantly provided a direct route for businesses to interact directly with Government.

Jo said: “CLEP and its partners are already delivering ‘Restart, Reboot, Rethink – A Plan for Cumbria’s Economic Recovery’, which is designed to make sure our economy moves beyond the pandemic in 2021. We are therefore focusing our support and help specifically on SME businesses with 250 employees or less, which account for a large percentage of Cumbrian businesses.

“We can help guide businesses to the appropriate agencies to access funding. In addition, our experts can provide businesses with bespoke advice on any specific issues that they might be facing.

“This support is only available until March 31, 2021, and as such it provides an excellent opportunity for our businesses to prepare for the 2021/22 financial year.”

CLEP is providing this service hand-in-hand with local professional service firms and other advisory organisations to ensure that the service meets the need of the individual business.

Anyone interested in accessing support can contact CLEP Project Manager Helen Atherton on 07791 804031 or via e-mail at

CLEP is also on hand to help businesses navigate the changes following the end of the EU Transition period. It recently established a new EU Transition team to support businesses to get to grips with the changes that have occurred since 31 December 2020.

For further information, or to access the service, please contact Peter Fleming at for assistance.

Whitehaven News:

Longer term, Jo feels strongly that Cumbria is perfectly placed to serve a variety of markets and appeal to investors, given our location at the heart of the UK and at the crossroads of the Union. Uniquely, Cumbria shares a land border with Scotland and a sea border with both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

CLEP, working with a range of partners from the public and private sectors, capitalised on this by submitting a bid for Cumbria to become one of the 10 new Freeports that Government has committed to create across the UK.

The Heart of the UK Freeport Cumbria bid has been developed in partnership with three operators - Barrow Port, Carlisle Lake District Airport and the Port of Workington – and four Local Authorities - Allerdale Borough Council, Barrow Borough Council, Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council - making it both a multi-modal and multi-centre freeport.

CLEP was also instrumental in a selection process that saw Moorside in West Cumbria chosen as Cumbria’s contender to go forward to UKAEA’s national competition to identify a site to host the UK’s first prototype nuclear fusion plant together with a surrounding science, technology and business park.

In October 2020, UK Government announced an initial £220 million of funding to produce a concept fusion reactor design known as the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) by 2024.

Jo said: “We at CLEP are at the forefront of the transition to a post-carbon economy, with internationally-acclaimed nuclear expertise and one of the world’s largest operational offshore wind farms, generating 20 per cent of the UK’s offshore output. The STEP project fits perfectly with our clean energy ambitions.”

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the EU Transition process, Jo believes that brighter prospects do lie ahead for the county’s business community.

“The county has a thriving business environment. There are great opportunities for new and established companies to succeed in Cumbria, as a well-connected strategic investment location in the North West of England, which caters for a wide range of industry sectors and sizes of organisation.

“We really do have something for everybody and there has never been a better time to come to Cumbria. COVID has made people rethink ‘the way we live and the way we work now’ and Cumbria offers the perfect blend of available sites and premises; a willing and effective workforce; beautiful and affordable housing and a bold ambition to become the best place in the UK to live, work, visit and invest.”

If any of these support services are of interest, email