THE largest independent North-East business survey has revealed results for the second quarter of the year – which are as negative as employers had feared, due to Covid 19.

Sales for the manufacturing and service sectors fell to record lows of -54 per cent and -63 per cent respectively – far worse figures than those reported during 2009’s financial crash.

Cash flow was also at an unprecedented negative level of -48.2 per cent.

North East England Chamber of Commerce President Lesley Moody, said: “These results show the speed with which this crisis engulfed our economy.

“As a region we entered this crisis with above average levels of unemployment and economic inequality. While our survey shows workforce scores falling less dramatically, these are being supported by the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.

“As we have pointed out to Government, downturns are more pronounced in regions such as ours and fall disproportionately on those with the least capacity to withstand them.

“We must therefore see a recovery built on principles of fairness, community, sustainability, and opportunity.

“The Chamber is ready to play a leading role in this – not just in campaigning for support but also in bringing our business community together to help one another, learn best practice and share new opportunities.

“It will be tough, but together we can build a stronger North-East economy.”

The Chamber’s economic survey also showed almost all the respondents had accessed Government support in some form.

It revealed that 65 per cent have been using the furlough measures, 8.5 per cent the CIBLS loan, 24 per cent Bounce Back Loan and 38.8 per cent deferring VAT or other taxes.

Commenting on the survey Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa’s managing director, Jason Adams – himself a Chamber member – said: “The furlough scheme has been very welcome and our team is particularly fortunate that our owner has topped everyone’s salaries up to 100 per cent.

“Looking ahead with the furlough scheme, I think there needs to be something put in place beyond October for the hospitality sector.

“Now the Government has given the go ahead for hotels to reopen on July 4, when the social distancing rule will be been reduced to one metre, we can finally start planning and implementing new procedures.

“The most complex area of our business is the spa and gym and until Tuesday’s announcement, we thought they may have been included in the July 4 reopening.

“We’ve now been told this is definitely not the case and that’s a huge blow to the business with many of our guests telling us they visit Rockliffe Hall primarily for the spa.

“Naturally we are delighted that we can soon reopen the hotel and will do our very best, but the lack of communication and delays in confirmation from the Government have made things very difficult.”

l Durham University Business School is associate sponsor of the Chamber’s Economic Survey.