Coronavirus business round-up: Latest news across the North West

Sally Penni and Robert Rinder

A legal podcast which was launched in early 2019 is stepping up its frequency, from once a month, to weekly, for the duration of the current coronavirus lockdown.

Talking Law was the brainchild of Manchester-based Women in the Law UK, established by barrister Sally Penni.

The latest subject of Talking Law is barrister and TV personality Robert “Judge” Rinder, who studied in Manchester.

In a wide-ranging interview Mr Rinder tells Ms Penni about the journey that took him from the National Youth Theatre into the law, and how he made the leap from successful criminal defence barrister to TV personality.

Recorded before his grandfather tragically passed away as a result of COVID-19 earlier this month, he also talks about the importance of his family history in shaping his commitment to the law.

As well as sharing anecdotes from his life and career Mr Rinder talks about his dismay at the rolling back of Legal Aid and its effect on access to justice. He also discusses social mobility and challenges faced by aspiring lawyers from non-traditional backgrounds.

Sally Penni, herself an award-winning barrister, said: “Robert was a hugely entertaining and engaging guest, and also a thought-provoking one. Listeners will love his many hilarious anecdotes and, I believe, also be inspired by his candour.

“One of the topics we talked about in some depth was social mobility, which has arguably got worse over the past two decades, at least in terms of the legal profession. This is an issue that Women in the Law UK is working hard to highlight and address, and it was really interesting to hear Robert’s take on the subject.”

The next episode in the series will feature the legendary legal author and blogger ‘The Secret Barrister’.


Business owners should be using the lockdown to prepare for the future to ensure their companies can survive when the economy resumes, say specialists at insolvency and corporate recovery practice Inquesta.

Government help for business during the coronavirus crisis may simply have helped thousands of failing companies to ‘kick the can down the road’, according to Inquesta’s Steven Mason.

Steven Mason

Inquesta, which has its head office in Greater Manchester and a presence in Leeds and London, is braced for an upsurge in insolvencies once normality returns.

Steven said: “It is certainly the calm before the storm. We are seeing a lot of inquiries from directors whose businesses were struggling in the run-up to the coronavirus crisis.


“Since then, however, they have felt no need to take action because the pressure from banks, landlords and HM Revenue & Customs has stopped and they can get money off the Government to pay wages as well as grants and loans.

“When we get back to some kind of normality, it will come as a terrible shock to a lot of companies.

“The Chancellor’s unprecedented package of measures may have averted mass job losses and economic catastrophe for the time being, but there is a real concern that they have simply enabled businesses to ‘kick the can down the road’.”

Steven said business owners should be using this period to start thinking including planning for further disruption in the event of subsequent coronavirus outbreaks.


Since the launch of Blackpool’s Corona Kindness on March 23, an incredible community-wide effort has helped to ensure that those in need do not go without.

Each of Blackpool’s 12 Corona Kindness community hubs continues to provide food parcels, shopping assistance, medication supplies, a befriending service and dog walking.

Since its launch, the Corona Kindness helpline has now received more than 1,750 calls, while the email inbox for those who require support ( continues to receive an average of 1,000 emails per week.

More than 1,100 households have been contacted and offered assistance by a Corona Kindness coordinator. Of those households:

  • Almost 500 have received assistance from local shopping services providing doorstep delivery
  • 140 prescriptions have been picked up and delivered by Corona Kindness volunteers
  • 15 dogs are being walked regularly

In total, more than 400 individuals and groups from across Blackpool have come forward to offer their support, with in excess of 120 of those officially signed up to give assistance.

Supplies ready for distribution

The food distribution service has received support from a number of suppliers including Trevors Food Service, Ribble Farm Fruit & Vegetables and Morris Bakers. Mars UK, Burtons Biscuits and Dunsters Farm have played a key part in ensuring that food stocks are readily available via generous donations.

The food distribution service has now delivered more than 16,700 food parcels. The total number of meals distributed passed the 200,000 mark this week and now stands at more than 214,000.

Derek Wright, Blackpool Council’s catering Services manager, said: “We are very proud that the Catering Service and Leisure Services could support our council and community with the emergency food distribution. We are all committed to serving and supporting our community, and we are one of many departments that have made changes to deliver essential services.”

Cllr Simon Blackburn, executive leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Since the launch of Corona Kindness back in March, we have witnessed the development of an incredible and wide-reaching network of support. Straight from the launch, the Blackpool community stepped up to deliver.”