Trade associations respond to COVID-19

Trade associations respond to COVID-19
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According to Dean Smith, Commercial Director of British Marine, the trade association sees its current role as collating and disseminating knowledge, and lobbying for clarity where needed.

Staff have been diverted to supporting members on a 1-2-1 basis and are logging concerns so that daily e-shots carry the latest relevant news about the Government response to COVID-19.

“We’ve made a micro-site for coronavirus information,” Smith says. “We’re adding data to it all of the time.

“Our membership is incredibly diverse so we’re taking data, categorising it, and making it useful to specific areas of membership. We’re extracting the relevant policies from the press conferences and sifting through it.”

While Smith recognises the support that the Government is offering, he’s conscious that the systems and processes haven’t been built by departments yet, so he says British Marine is helping members by asking issue specific questions of functional teams at the Department for Trade and Industry, HMRC, local authorities, and more.

British Marine is also lobbying. In a joint letter with the Canal & Rivers Trust and Broads Authority, the association has asked for special consideration for waterways businesses. The letter says:

“The fiscal packages proposed by the Government last week have been gratefully received by those who qualify. However, the unique nature of boating businesses means that they do not currently address the financial needs of the majority of waterway businesses. In particular, their largest costs are in the cost of their boat fleets and/ or moorings, and whilst some occupy buildings in which they pay rent and rates, it is typically a small proportion of their costs.”

Plus British Marine has set up a ‘hub’ for FAQs and is asking members to share their knowledge.

“This is a fast-moving beast, like a steam train,” Smith says, which is why pooling knowledge is key to British Marine’s strategy.

The RYA is, similarly, posting regular information messages and is working with national funding bodies for sport on a co-ordinated response to ensure boating interests are represented. It’s also looking at taking the actions necessary to assure the financial and operational strength of the RYA in the future.

Obviously not marine, but within the wider leisure, repair, sports and manufacturing sectors, the Bicycle Association has extended free legal and HR support to the whole UK cycle industry including retailers and suppliers for an initial period of three months.

CEOs from leading companies in the UK cycle industry attended a ‘COVID-19 crisis summit’ videoconference convened by the association and agreed an industry-wide way forward, including keeping responsible exercise at the forefront.

Meanwhile, the Association of Cycle Traders is already developing consumer engagement campaigns, making the general public even more aware of cycling benefits.

The association has also sought advice about employees working from home. This includes checking home insurance policies and whether employers’ cover extends to people working from home (specifically using equipment), and health and safety considerations.

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