Lincolnshire 2021: Promise Fulfilled?

Lincolnshire 2021: Promise Fulfilled?

At the end of last year, we all looked to 2021 to deliver us from the woes of 2020, with a quiet optimism we looked forward to a brighter future for Lincolnshire. In this latest blog from Coversure Grantham, your friendly local Insurance brokers, we reflect on the year so far.

Post-Brexit Lincolnshire

So, Brexit happened, overshadowed somewhat by the pandemic and further lockdowns early on in the year, but as predicted a new EU trade deal was struck at the last minute.

Since then, the UK have signed trade deals and agreements in principle with 68 countries around the world. However, the details of these have, in the main been replicas of the deals that were in place when the UK was part of the EU. So, has very much changed? Well, like any contract the devil’s in the detail.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce many firms have reportedly found the new requirements around taxation and paperwork too erroneous, logistics too costly, and they have all but given up on their EU export markets. Locally, the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce has remained an invaluable source of help and support.

Another key challenge that has been widely reported is labour shortages. As we’ve highlighted on the Coversure Grantham blog in the past, an amazing 99% of seasonal workers come from the EU and businesses have come to depend on them. Take a look at British Sugar’s Newark sugar beet factory: the goods-in entrance has signs in 5 European languages. Such a loss of labour could have serious consequences.

Whilst the Government are providing for temporary visas for foreign workers – 800 have just been granted for abattoir workers – the National Farmers Union have said they need to double its seasonal workers scheme for 2022 to avoid a crisis.

Green Shoots Through Technology?

Some UK farmers are looking to technology to plug the gaps such as automation in the form of robots to perform jobs from picking fruit and milking cows to washing and grading vegetables. Whilst there’s clearly some advantages such as a machine’s ability to work 24/7, many would argue that it will be years before machines will be in widespread use.

And it’s not just farmers that are looking into new technology. There are an increasing number of pilot schemes with companies looking to technology to solve logistical problems too. Royal Mail and Tesco are currently running pilots looking at how delivery drones can help them reach remote and rural areas or just deliver goods faster and more efficiently to their customers.

Advocates of drone technology say that such technologies could also help reduce a company’s carbon emissions. And that leads us nicely on to another hot topic for 2021, climate change.

Rising to the Climate Challenge

From COP26 to Insulate Britain, the environment and the challenges of climate change are never far from the headlines.

The NFU have aspirations to make farming net zero by 2040 and have reported that many farms are already taking positive steps. From better soil management to reduce the need for fertilisers to using technology and data in lamb breeding to reduce the time to fatten lambs to planting trees, such meausres not only help reduce a farm’s carbon footprint but provide natural shelter for livestock. These approaches are very much seen as in harmony with agriculture to ensure farmers can continue to produce the food we need and make a livelihood from it.

Manufacturing is another sector where changes are afoot. Major Lincolnshire based company British Steel are aiming to produce net zero steel by 2050. Whilst they acknowledge that it’s a major challenge, as we’ve seen elsewhere they are looking to utilise new technologies and mention such initiatives as carbon capture and storage, increasing scrap utilisation and supporting recycling.

Perhaps fuelled (pardon the pun) by the recent fuel crisis and rising gas prices, lots of businesses and households will also be considering how they can switch away from traditional fuels for their homes and vehicles and move to electric commercial vehicles.

Nothing More Certain Than Change

In 2020 many of us just wanted our old normal lives to return. While the wonders of healthcare treatment advances and vaccinations have enabled us to open society back up, its clear that rather than just returning to the old order of things, 2021 has shown us that we instead need to move forward. From staycations and home working to the more complex issues of new trade links for exporting and climate change challenges, we at Coversure Grantham are still optimistic that Lincolnshire households and businesses will rise to the challenges and embrace change.

To faciliate this, the DTI launched an Export Support Scheme this month to help companies – particularly SMEs – make the most of new trade links. The CBI estimate that ‘new generation of SME exporters could boost UK export revenues by an additional £20bn by 2030’.

There are also currently 3 schemes that will reward farmers for their environment land management as part of the Environment Land Management (ELM) system bought in post Brexit. These schemes have either got pilots underway or planned in 2022. A recent NFU survey suggested that 84% of members were interested in applying for ELM.

At a more local level, Lincolnshire council workers could soon benefit from a salary sacrifice scheme to enable them to purchase an electric car, so help to make the changes is at hand.

Like Some Insurance Help?

If you’d like some help protecting you business or property during these changing times – be it by getting electric fleet insurance cover or getting business insurance to cover exports – then please get in touch. Call Coversure Grantham on (01476) 565 590, or email Coversure Grantham and we’ll be only too happy to help.

Sources:

Brexit: What trade deals has the UK done so far? – BBC News
Dedicated hotline and online service launched for UK exporters – Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce (lincs-chamber.co.uk)
Government must double seasonal workers scheme for 2022 – NFU – Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)
Achieving net zero – meeting the climate change challenge (nfuonline.com)
British Steel unveils Low-Carbon Roadmap with net-zero pledge | British Steel
New government helpline launched for businesses exporting to the EU | CBI
Survey shows demand for net zero actions in ELMs (nfuonline.com)

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