1. Businesses Need Cash Now
Announcements are not enough – support must reach affected businesses’ bank accounts urgently
2. Loans Are Not Enough
For the most impacted businesses, taking on a loan to cover three or more months of outgoings (payroll, rent, suppliers, other overheads) with very limited or no income is an unsustainable level of debt
3. Payroll Support Needed Immediately
Urgently bring forwards measures to support impacted businesses with managing payroll to avoid the need for widespread short-term redundancies as cash flow positions worsen
4. Cut 1 April Tax Burdens
Urgently bring forwards measures to provide tax holidays for the most impacted businesses facing potentially significant bills at the end of the month
5. Expand Support
Expand the 12-month abolition of business rates to those firms outside of the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000
6. Extend the Brexit Transition period
Businesses cannot face a second round of major disruption and change in just a few months time
7. Improve Access to Support
Remove the additional cost to businesses of seeking support by making the Government’s 0300 Business Support hotline a Freephone number and increase the number of call handlers to ensure that no business is left on hold
8. Make It Real
Ensure that all businesses needing ‘Time to Pay’ receive it
9. Improve communication
Make it easier for businesses to find the support relevant to them (using gov.uk/Brexit as a potential model) and hold press conferences before 5pm to allow companies to plan and respond in time for the next day’s business
10. Never announce measures that will directly damage a sector of British industry (such as the advice to avoid hospitality venues) without having a package of support ready and available for applications
Yesterday, the Bank of England made an emergency cut to interest rates to help bolster the UK economy. It is the second cut just over a week and brings interest rates down from 0.25 per cent to a new record low of 0.1 per cent. The bank also announced £200bn in bond surpluses to inject more cash into the financial system.
Chamber chief executive Louise Bennett said: “This is another historic low for interest rates as the Bank of England looks to further support the economy – but I believe we will have to see support go even further.
“The picture isn’t just shifting by the day it is moving by the hour as the Bank and the Government continues to increase efforts to soften the economic impact of the outbreak.
“Just over a week ago, we were talking about an unprecedented Budget in terms of support for the economy – and we have moved on drastically in a very short space of time and that seems an age ago.
“The Chamber is in constant dialogue with partners in the region, with Government and with our members to ensure we are meeting this challenge head on and offering all the support we can.
“Our over-riding message to decision-makers is clear. Businesses need quick and easy access to the financial support available and no measure in terms of help should be off the table right now.
“We are in for some very challenging weeks and months ahead and I think it’s fair to say that the Government and Bank of England understand the magnitude of that but must now ensure that businesses get the money they need immediately.
“Our message to businesses is also very clear. You may never have asked for support before but do so now and stay in regular contact with the Chamber and you professional advisers who will be able to help you.”
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