Business leaders offer verdict on Chancellor's changes
By Rob Freeman | 23rd October 2020
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced more changes to the Government's coronavirus economic support package yesterday, providing more help to businesses hit by the tighter restrictions.
He broadened the scope of the Job Support Scheme for businesses forced to close - which is due to start on November 1 - increased help for the self-employed and announced grants for businesses who have seen their ability to trade affected by restrictions.
Punchline canvassed reactions from the business community to his latest announcements.
Phil Smith, Business West managing director
"There was no help for businesses who are not able to operate at all, such as the events sector, but are not required to close under local lockdowns.
"All areas of the South West remain in tier one and are therefore not eligible for new grants based on hospitality businesses who are impacted by restrictions brought into other areas such as in the North West and London.
"Unincorporated businesses in the region will also be breathing a sigh of relief as the Self Employment Income Support Scheme grant from November 1 onwards is doubled to 40 per cent of profits, but eligibility remains what it was from the scheme's inception and the generosity is still considerably lower than 70-80 per cent of profits earlier this year.
"More help is welcomed by Business West to help embattled businesses across our region but there is a long winter to come for firms remaining between the gaps in the various schemes."
Mike Cherry, national chairman Federation of Small Businesses
"At a time of immense struggle for many small businesses, these interventions will help to protect jobs, businesses and livelihoods.
"With the furlough scheme coming to an end in just a few days, the expansion of the Job Support Scheme will help to reduce the burden on small businesses and give them a shot at surviving this crisis while offering a critical lifeline to millions of jobs. This will be helpful for small firms in all tiers of restrictions and businesses in all sectors.
"But it isn't just businesses who are forced to close, who need support, these funds must be made available to those in the supply chains of affected firms as well as those without premises, especially those in the hospitality sector.
"Business grants will be a welcome relief to thousands of businesses who have been left wondering how they'll survive in the weeks and months ahead.
"The upgraded support for the self-employed is vital to helping those individuals, but as with all previous support packages, there are still many who have been left behind.
"Those excluded from income support throughout this crisis, especially company directors and those newly self-employed, are now facing a significant depression in trade caused by these new restrictions and in many cases have no business at all.
They deserve to be part of this package of new support but have once again been ignored, the Chancellor should do all he can to address these shortcomings which are urgently needed."
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general CBI
"The missing middle of pubs, cafes and theatres in tier 2 along with other businesses across the UK who are seeing demand fall away, but with little extra support, will be relieved to see that anomaly come to an end.
"Meanwhile it's great to see the extra grant funding give local authorities the discretion to target where support is needed most.
"This is a big step towards a more standardised approach of support for areas going into tiers two and three and those businesses that face tough times who operate within them. It will be critical to get the buy-in of all regions in England, rather than negotiation on a case-by-case basis.
"Looking beyond the immediate fire-fighting, the Chancellor will need to look at ways of stimulating business investment and innovation which will be key to how the economy thrives once again."
Emma McClarkin, chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association
"This necessary and welcome support package will help thousands of pubs with tier two restrictions who otherwise faced devastation to their businesses.
"Having called for more support for businesses in our sector struggling under tier two restrictions, we warmly welcome these measures from the Chancellor today. They will help thousands of pubs and support thousands of jobs that otherwise were at real risk of being lost for good.
"The beer and pub sector has been under severe pressure since the beginning of the crisis, 90 per cent of pubs are currently unable to make any profit. Our brewers are forecasting sales through pubs to be 50 per cent down this year.
"Make no mistake more will need to be done to support Britain's brewers and those in the pub supply chain who currently do not benefit from grants, as well as regular reviewal of the restrictions - including the 10pm curfew - to stimulate public confidence and increase trade.
"This will require further stimulus measures including business rates, VAT and beer duty cuts in 2021 and beyond."
Kate Nicholls, chief executive UKHospitality
"The changes to the Job Support Scheme will help to safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs and the grant support will provide a crucial lifeline for businesses struggling with low footfall and ongoing costs.
"This gives businesses a much-enhanced chance of being able to overcome the challenges and survive into 2021, to sustain businesses so they can begin to recover next year and play a vital role in helping boost the economy.
"There is still a long way to go and we will be in close contact with the Government to make sure that our members, and the whole of hospitality, gets the support it needs and deserves."
Caroline Harwood, employment tax partner at audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe UK
"While the new grants and revised Job Support Scheme, which offers government funding of up to 62 per cent of wage cost with the employer paying just five per cent, will not match the level of income that many businesses will have enjoyed prior to the start of the pandemic, these measures will provide vital funding, enabling many to keep staff in jobs throughout the second wave of Covid-19.
"The business communities who were facing the stark reality of being unable to pay their employees, even at a reduced level of working and despite help from the original Job Support Scheme, will have some breathing space during the coming months.
"Without intervention from the Government, there's no doubt many hundreds of businesses would have perished this winter."
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