Over the past couple of years headlines have been made about some factories operating under the radar, and exploiting their workers – with many ethical manufacturers saying they have been tarnished by the same brush. In 2019 HMRC said that over a six year period 24 UK factories were caught failing to pay the minimum wage; a quarter of these were in Leicester.

The growth hub is part-funded by the EU and the department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. It is also backed by the city and county councils, East Midlands Chamber and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited. The support being provided for small and medium-sized manufacturers includes dedicated advice from an experienced business adviser; webinars covering health, safety and wellbeing, ethical and social compliance, and employment rules; and free support clinics where businesses can find out more about what they should and should not be doing.

Growth Hub manager Jon Egley said: “Our fashion and textiles sector has taken a beating in recent years and unfortunately this has damaged its reputation. However, there are many fantastic firms in our region doing great things that want to keep improving and move forward as responsible, safe and sustainable businesses. We are delighted to provide this fully-funded service to help them strengthen the businesses from the inside out and, in turn, open them up to new opportunities and new business.”

The Business Gateway is one of 38 growth hubs across the country – one in each local enterprise partnership area – which were set up to bring together the public and private sector to promote, co-ordinate and deliver business support based on local needs.