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The Director's Take - 7 September 2020
Posted on: September 7th 2020

Launching today, Exeter Chamber's new communications series, The Director's Take, will see a different Chamber board director providing regular updates and insight on leading news stories for business each month.  This month, Julie Hawker, Chamber board director and joint chief executive of leading digital social enterprise, Cosmic will give us her take.

Julie said:

“We anticipate a huge amount of important information being released over the coming months and understanding it, and how it will impact on our businesses has never been more important.  In these briefings we will give you our take on each story.  Sometimes these briefings will include a position or viewpoint that is personal, but we will always try to represent the voice of business across Greater Exeter.  We welcome your feedback on this, so we can understand the impact on your business and sector and better represent all businesses in Exeter and the surrounding region.”

So, our top stories for this week:

The Kickstarter Employment Growth Scheme

A scheme from Government encouraging businesses to employ young people between the ages of 16-24 who are currently receiving Universal Credit.  During the six month programme, the young person’s wage will be covered by Government and there is an additional £1,500 available to businesses for extra costs.  Where businesses have less than 30 placements to offer, they need to work together to make a group bid.  Exeter Chamber is working with InExeter and Exeter City Council to identify businesses who would like to apply to the scheme so that, if the demand is there, we can work together to submit a group bid.  Register interest: 

Back to the workplace?

The Government’s push to get people back to the office has been a key focus over the weekend, with civil servants being strongly encouraged to work from the office at least part of the week. There is no doubt that more people have come back to offices recently and we know that last week footfall in Exeter city centre reached over 80% year on year.  Exeter Chamber believes that each business needs to find the right solution for them and take a common sense approach, with employer and employee working together to find a safe and productive solution, whether that is continuing to work from home, working from the office or a balance somewhere in the middle.

Bounce Back Digital

New dates of the most popular Bounce Back Digital workshops have been added:  Heart of the South West Skills Partnership has commissioned a range of experienced digital training providers (including Cosmic, Stephens Scown and LimeCloud) to deliver Bounce Back Digital; a series of free, online webinars, short courses and cyber support buddy sessions for small businesses to adapt to new ways of working in light of Covid-19.  More dates are now available in September and October – visit

Wind down of the Furlough Scheme

As the furlough scheme begins to wind down, we know that many business leaders will feel great concern about the future.  We really encourage you to take all the support you can now – there are many opportunities currently open including CBILS, Kickstart Employment Scheme, and support for training staff.  

Tour of Britain Returns

Good news for the city – the Tour of Britain’s Devon stage has been unveiled with the stage due to finish on Exeter’s Queen Street on 6 September 2021.  With worldwide TV coverage, this is expected to give extra profile to the city and county.  Originally due to take place this month, the announcement that it will return in 2021 is a welcome boost for Devon.

Julie Hawker is joint chief executive of Cosmic, an ethical IT business based in Honiton. Julie has been a board director of Exeter Chamber since 2017 and holds a number of other high level positions across the region including being a board member of South West Business Council and a trustee of Devon Air Ambulance.

For more information on any of these stories email your query to and we will put you in touch with the relevant person / organisation.

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