Further support for businesses announced by the government

In an ever changing environment the government announced over the weekend more support measures to support businesses across the UK.

It will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 per employee.

It is hoped that this scheme will prevent workers being laid off and employees will retain their jobs even if the business cannot afford to pay them.

The scheme is to be run by HMRC and is expected to make the first grants to business within weeks.

In other announcements by the Chancellor, VAT payments by companies will be deferred until the end of June and more interest free cash grants to small businesses were revealed.

There was no direct support for the self-employed sector however a number of increases to benefits that many will have to fall back on, which has been met with criticism, simply shifting self-employed people onto the troublesome universal credit system will not provide the support needed, and these people, who are so valuable to our economy deserve further support measures from the UK government.

The coming weeks will call for employees to hold their nerve until the payments announced by the government can be made to those who need it most. This should be made as easy as possible to access and the government should be working to offer clarity of exactly how this emergency funding is accessed.

Sharon Smith, CEO of Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is a relief to hear of this lifeline being made available to workers across the UK, allowing businesses across the two counties an alternative to ending the contracts of their employees. Now the focus from the government should be on streamlining the measures and support announced directly to the source where it is needed the most as quickly as possible in order to provide the businesses around the country the support they need during these times.”

“The government should also be looking at ways in which it can further support those workers who are self-employed and addressing the problems that they will be facing in the coming months.”

Commenting on the further measures announced by the Chancellor to help businesses hit by the impact of Coronavirus, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said:

“The deferral of VAT payments keeps money in the pockets of businesses so that they can pay their people and suppliers, and the commitment to cover wages of those unable to work will allow firms to retain many jobs if they are forced to reduce their operations.”

“The government now needs to go foot-to-floor to ensure that details of the job retention scheme and loan guarantees reach firms on the ground as soon as possible. Given that this situation continues to evolve, ministers must also keep the door open to additional measures to support business cash flow.”

Calling for further measures from the UK government to help the self-employed, he said:

“The government has taken massive steps to help so many businesses in recent days. Ministers must now also ramp up support for the self-employed, many of whom have seen their livelihoods vanish in the blink of an eye. Chambers across the UK are hearing from thousands of sole traders, for whom last week’s measures offer little reassurance.

“While we understand the complexity involved, there are five million self-employed people who need help similar in scale and scope to that put in place for larger firms in recent days. We will work closely with ministers to find a way to deliver support to self-employed people – and to ensure that the measures announced for larger businesses make it through quickly to the front line.”

For any further support, advice or guidance please do get in touch with the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce by calling 01905 673 600, we will be constantly looking out for the latest updates and support available to businesses across the two counties, please do visit our dedicated Coronavirus Information Hub and keep an eye out for the latest updates via our website.