Coronavirus Response: The Punchline Gloucestershire Business Survey - RESULTS
By James Young | 23rd March 2020
Friday's historic announcement that the government would step in and pay people's wages for the first time to combat the Coronavirus Crisis has seen a mixed reaction across the county.
In the wake of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing the measure, Punchline asked the business community of Gloucestershire for their opinion.
We wanted to know whether the measures went far enough towards protecting business at this unprecedented time, or whether stronger actions were needed.
We also asked whether you and your business were confident of surviving the crisis intact.
The responses we received were from across the county and from across a wide sector of businesses and highlighted the range of challenges businesses are facing.
"Have the measures announced to date gone far enough and are you happy with the government's response"
More than half of the respondents - 57.88 per cent - said that they were happy with the measures put in place by Messrs Johnson, Sunak and company, with 42.22 per cent saying they weren't.
Are you confident that the measures taken will see businesses through this unprecedented situation?"
The response saw a similar majority, but with the larger share of people - 54.34 per cent saying they were not confident of surviving unscathed, as opposed to 46.66 per cent who were.
SECTORS / INDUSTRIES WE RECEIVED RESPONSES FROM
• Public sector
• Food production / Catering
• Construction / Design / Planning
• Office equipment, retail and repair
• Education and Training
• Software Development
• Creative Industries
• Entertainment / Funfairs
• Business Consultancy
SELECTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS:
What specific challenges are facing your business due to the coronavirus epidemic?
• Closure due to cancellation of orders from all coffee shop chains and hospitality sector.
• Financial pressures on clients.
• No customers! High rent and business rates with no rebate
• Cross contamination
• What to do with staff, paying people for services and supplies, cash flow in general
• Cash flow shortages. Planning application delays
• Postponement of majority of face to face training services, except for essential clients and needs.
• All income for March-June wiped out.
• The government closed the schools but as an independent school We need to find a way to still teach pupils to make sure that the parents still pay... we are a school but we are a business too.
• Footfall dropped through the floor.
• As the hospitality sector is closed we have no market and are receiving no income but still have expenditure. May to August is the time of year that we make most of our money, so even if we get back to some normality by September it could be too late. We depend upon weddings, proms, Ascot, Air Tattoo, formal events
• We have to close the restaurant
• Money. None coming in Rent due beginning of April. Plus all monthly bills, plus loan repayments.
• Lack of customers.
• Our customer base is not coming in to buy all the little bits they normally get. cash flow is drying up.
• Total shut down and no income
• Lack of business due to clients cancelling
• Self-employed with no work whatsoever after shutdown of the hospitality sector.
• No income
• Rent, wages, remote working and finding new business
What more would like to be done to help businesses through the coming weeks and months?
• More help for self-employed people More draconian enforcement of social distancing
• More information and money coming through sooner if possible.
• More needs to be done to support the self-employed.
• My rates need reducing the same as retails ones
• Clear and concise information, leaving no doubt as to what can be claimed without just racking up more debt which could end up just prolonging a collapse.
• Make it clear that self-employed won't be forgotten
• Deferral / cancellation of all tax (PAYE/VAT/ CORP) obligations.
• Would ideally answer unsure to both questions above. Any funding needs to be easily available and accessible to businesses in need. SMEs make up a vast proportion of UK financial income/revenue generation and we're all going to be robust enough to weather prolonged business disruption.
• Information on small business grant criteria so we can plan. We are, and have been, making irrevocable decisions blind.
• Support the self-employed the same as employed workers.
• Consideration for company directors / contractors and freelancers that pay the majority of their remuneration via dividends.
• I really don't know... we want to know how long this will go on for but they can't tell us. Make the supermarkets limit the items people can buy.
• A universal basic income for freelancers/ single person businesses
• Clearer picture of how we will access the help. I understand why it will take some time to setup, and it's great to know what is planned, but how we access the 80 per cent salary payment for furloughed staff (and that it'll be days/weeks before we know) is worrying.
• For the grants being offered to be interest free
• Home based limited company family businesses like mine are not, so far, included in the government planning
• Money to charities, to keep supporting the most vulnerable, this is a national emergency and so they need supporting. While food banks aren't getting food donations through due to stockpiling however the demand is hitting an all-time high with job losses and layoffs also many zero hour contacts, if we don't support the third sector to deliver this will stress out frontline services even more and I'm not sure they will cope with more pressure!
• Funds available more quickly. More self-isolation policing to make people stay at home.
• Help for self-employment
• To adjust and amend policy as necessary as the problem develops
• More help for self employed
• Help with rent payments
• The daily updates are spot on and very grateful with the Government's financial support. One must not be too greedy.
• More support for saving jobs
• Help self employed people with loss of business
• It's all words. So far there is no clarity how to obtain the financial help. If by the end of next week I feel the help is on its way then I will be happy. If there are lots of hoops to jump through I will not be happy. We need simplicity.
• More help for self-employed
• There isn't much more that can be done. But there are also no guarantees
• Maintaining mental health and additional training on line so this time is as productive as it can be
• More help for the self-employed/sole traders.
• We have a private landlord (as many businesses do) who is demanding rent before any money is going to make it to us, and even with our insurance unless we are forced to close we cannot claim, and if we do, payouts are not guaranteed despite the exceptional circumstance that is leading to it. It would be nice to know that rental safety nets apply to private rent business premises too if we have to wait to be able to pay, and it would be nice to know that the insurance companies we have paid for years without ever claiming from will be required to pay out at least some of what is lost in trade so that, moving forward businesses are not expected to bounce back with immediate effect. Bank fees should be temporarily suspended and loan and overdraft interest should be dropped entirely or frozen, and loan, overdraft, credit card and debt re-payments should also be on a 'pay what you can' basis without an adverse credit effect for at least six months.
• Businesses should be able to claim on their insurances to allow them to keep paying worker's wages. All rental on business locations should halt immediately. Any money provided by the government to help businesses should never be a loan, but a grant. Loans only leave people in debt further down the line. Solutions should not cause more problems.
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