As the UK economy has been forced to deal with the pressures of multiple lockdowns and subsequent reopenings, our Rural Business Team has continued to support our hard-working agricultural and rural clients.
For many of our agriculture clients, it has been business as usual. The nation needs to be fed and our farmers and food producers have been as busy as ever to ensure shelves remain stocked. Despite all the challenges the year has brought, the rural sector remains confident.
A survey earlier last year found that over 90% of rural business owners in Scotland were confident they can reopen their business while adhering to social distancing measures. This is indicative of the pragmatism, adaptability, and the diversity and opportunities available in the rural sector.
As many of us continue to work from home and shop locally, rural high streets have benefited from people shopping locally. This increase in footfall, along with local businesses willing to go the extra mile to support their communities, is a pleasing trend amidst an unprecedentedly challenging time.
These businesses have identified and addressed the gap in local services that the lockdown has created, as have entrepreneurial start-ups. Faced with massive disruption to local services and increased care needs in the community, I have seen organisations both support their community and continue trading by diversifying their output.
Understandably, this has involved discussions with their insurers to ensure appropriate levels of cover for new activities is in place. In some cases, we assist with the creation of new bespoke contracts to ensure they can continue to provide important services. As part of our ongoing commitment to our clients, we stay in regular contact with them. This allows us to ensure adequate and bespoke levels of cover are always in place.
Such businesses have ranged from those specialising in online goods delivered straight to your front door, to individuals offering business mentoring and coaching via video conferencing, to tradesmen offering home and garden renovations as homeowners re-assess the type of home they wish to live in.
For those consumers unable to visit the supermarket for their groceries, there have been catering firms and local shops offering home delivery with the best local produce. Isolated consumers have been able to access local and seasonal produce with increased vegetable box home delivery and fish-merchants visiting every small village in their area. Such vital services have been a lifeline for so many people.
We should applaud them all and support them all whenever we can, by continuing to support local and shop local.