Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Chamber
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Chamber

Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say Government money for furloughed staff must be fast-tracked to companies after a survey showed that two-thirds of firms will be looking to access funds from the Job Retention Scheme.

The British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) third Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker revealed that 66 per cent of businesses responding to the survey have now furloughed staff in anticipation of scheme going live on April 20.

More than half of firms (59 per cent) have three months cash in reserve or less, while just two per cent of firms surveyed had successfully accessed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans and 15 per cent of those surveyed are now receiving grants.

The weekly tracker poll serves as a barometer of the pandemic’s impact on businesses and the effectiveness of government support measures and received 701 responses between April 8 and April 10. It is the largest independent survey of its kind in the UK.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The latest survey shows that cashflow is the number one concern for companies in this crisis and that many businesses are relying on the Government’s Job Retention Scheme to help them through.

“Two thirds of businesses have already furloughed staff and will be looking to access funds when the scheme goes live next Monday (April 20).

“It is, therefore, vitally important that businesses can access the cash very quickly in order to ensure that they can meet staff wages when it comes to payday.

“If companies are unsure of how to access the scheme – or any of the other support available – they should contact the team here at the Chamber and we will help.”

BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said: “Businesses on the frontline need cash to start flowing from support schemes fast. With April’s payday coming up, we are fast approaching a crunch point, and both the furlough scheme and CBILS facilities need to be accelerated.

“While we’ve seen a high number of firms furloughing staff in anticipation of the Job Retention Scheme coming online, it is still unclear whether they will start receiving funds before their payroll date, which could exacerbate the cash crisis many businesses are facing.

“It is essential that the Job Retention Scheme makes payments to businesses as soon as possible. Any delay could mean more livelihoods under threat, more business failures, and more hardship in our communities.”

Businesses can contact the Chamber on 024 7665 4321 for advice on how to access the support available.