Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire have praised the Chancellor’s latest round of support measures in the evolving Coronavirus crisis.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it was a time to be cautiously optimistic as he revealed a new Job Support Scheme to help keep people in work but on shorter time where business demand had fallen.
He also revealed help for the self-employed as well as help with cashflow for businesses by changing the terms on Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, as well as more time and flexibility on deferred tax bills.
The Chancellor also extended the reduction in VAT for hospitality and tourism businesses to five per cent until March 2021.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The crisis has evolved over the past six months and it’s welcome that the Government support for the economy has recognised this and has evolved too.
“Six months ago, most of us were being effectively told to lock the doors on our businesses and it was only those who could work from home that could continue to operate in any real capacity.
“Now, we face a different approach where many businesses are now back and the Government has made it clear that those in manufacturing and construction, for example, should continue to operate providing it is in a Covid-19 compliant way.
“Therefore, this new raft of measures serves to help save as many jobs as possible where business demand has decreased due to the crisis, and recognises that cashflow still remains a major issue for firms – even those who are operating again.
“Some of the measures are of a direct result of feedback Chambers have had from members and have been put forward by colleagues at the British Chambers of Commerce to Government, so it is great to see the voice of business being heard.
“I am very keen to see how easy it will be to access the new support and, also, how those larger businesses will have to demonstrate their eligibility.
“There are also still sectors that are still some way off being able to return, particularly those in business events and conferences and, just as he did at the start of the crisis, we’d urge the Chancellor to look at developing the support for business over the coming weeks and months.”
British Chambers of Commerce Director General Adam Marshall said: “The measures announced by the Chancellor will give business and the economy an important shot in the arm. Chambers of Commerce have consistently called for a new generation of support to help protect livelihoods and ease the cash pressures faced by firms as they head into a challenging and uncertain winter.
“The Chancellor has responded to our concerns with substantial steps that will help companies preserve jobs and navigate through the coming months. The new Jobs Support Scheme will help many companies hold on to valued, skilled employees. Businesses will be eager to see the detail and consider whether and how they will be able to use the scheme.
“The Chancellor has listened to our consistent calls for an extension of business lending schemes, more flexible repayment terms for loans, and tax forbearance measures. With almost 40 per cent of our firms saying they have three months cash in reserve or less, this will lessen the immediate pressure and provide reassurance for many affected firms at a challenging time.
“The Chancellor must remain open to taking additional action to support parts of the economy facing unprecedented challenges over the months ahead. Chambers of Commerce across the UK will continue to work with government to ensure the benefits of these schemes are delivered to firms on the ground.”