Business welcome for Chancellor's new measures on coronavirus
Businesses and support organisations have welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak's latest measures over the coronavirus pandemic.
Adam Cunningham, chairman of the Manufacturing Assembly Network and chief executive of Muller Holdings in Cleobury Mortimer, said: “There will be many extremely relieved business owners and employees tonight following Rishi Sunak’s announcement.
"My initial reaction is that this is exactly what is required to ensure businesses can retain their most valuable asset – their workforce – covering the next three months initially, with the possibility of extending the support if required.
"Eighty per cent payment (up to £2,500) should ensure the vast majority of employees can continue to pay their essential bills and feed their families, two crucial elements of everyday life. I’m also pleasantly surprised to see that this has been backdated to March 1, covering people that may have already been laid off.
"We await further guidance and information to be published, so, as employers, we can understand the detail in full, but it does sound comprehensive, including covering employees on zero-hour contracts."
Mr Cunningham added that like all Government support, speed would be of the essence and the money wouldneed to find its way to the right people at the right time.
"Increasing the business interruption loan interest-free period to 12 months and postponing VAT payments to the end of June will give manufacturers some flexibility and breathing space to use their cash where it is needed.
"Support for the lower paid and those on universal credit should also be applauded, as the Chancellor has done an excellent job in ensuring those in need will be protected during this extremely difficult period.
"In my opinion, the Government has done what it needed to do and, as manufacturers, we will do our bit, especially in seeking innovative ways where we can support the national bid for more ventilators," said Mr Cunningham.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce said that the measures to cover wages of employees unable to work during the coronavirus pandemic would go someway to reassure businesses that “cash is coming”.
Chambers chief executive Paul Faulkner said: “These are unprecedented times and the Government does seem to be stepping up to offer unprecedented support.
“However, as we all know, announcements alone do not translate into cash in the bank. And for those businesses, particularly in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector, whose cash flow has been decimated in recent days that is precisely what they need, as they absorb the impact of today’s announcement on closures.
“We will continue to work proactively stakeholders to get support moving to the businesses that need it the most. VAT deferment will provide welcome relief that businesses will be able to keep some much needed money in the bank in the short-term.
"The news that Business Interruption Loans will be available via banks from Monday and interest free for 12 months will be welcomed by many. If your business is in need, do speak to your bank.
“The pledge to backdate the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme pay outs to March 1 will go some way to reassuring businesses with staff at serious risk of redundancy that cash is coming.”
Mr Faulkner said HMRC must quickly spell out the criteria for firms to be eligible for the job retention scheme, adding: “We would urge HMRC to make clear the evidence required and criteria that will be applied for roles to be eligible for this scheme as soon as possible in order to help businesses ensure they have the information they need to hand as soon as it opens for applications.
“This is absolutely critical. The communication of this detail must be both clear and simple and also comprehensive in answering the many questions that businesses will have on this crucial scheme.
“We will continue to watch as these processes develop and challenge any unnecessary bureaucracy or overly prohibitive criteria.
“These measures go some way to addressing our 10-point plan for supporting businesses through coronavirus.
“However, there are a number of areas that still need action including the big elephant in the room: the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31. Businesses cannot face two significant round of disruption within a year and we will continue to push the case on this, and other emerging areas, where businesses need further action."
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