The Job Support Scheme announced by the Chancellor earlier today is a welcome step towards providing short-term help to businesses in extending employment support after months of lobbying from business leaders, local authorities and opposition parties. Despite this, significant concerns remain that the new scheme will fall short of delivering the urgent help businesses need, failing to provide comprehensive support to the hospitality and retail industry as well as to those 3million taxpayers still excluded from accessing any Government support schemes.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, commented:
“We welcome the Chancellor’s change of heart in response to months of lobbying from businesses organisations and local authorities. Whilst the devil, as always, will be in the details, we hope that all businesses who need help will be able to utilise the new scheme. However, we await further details, particularly on the exclusion clauses, which in the previous support schemes announced by the Government left many businesses and the self-employed excluded. Although given the chance, today the Chancellor failed to address those who have been excluded from any Government support throughout the crisis. The case for direct support measures for the 3million excluded taxpayers remains as strong as ever.
“The hospitality industry, a major employer in the city, will welcome the extension of the 5% VAT rate to March, however, this does not go near enough to providing the support that the industry will require in the face of evolving public health restrictions. Chancellor correctly recognised that cash flow is a key concern currently, with many businesses reporting that they are burning up any reserves that they had left to keep going. There is an urgent need for a more comprehensive package of support and recovery to save jobs and livelihoods.
“The run-up to Christmas will be critical and therefore all steps to keep the retail and hospitality industries functioning is essential. Whilst the Council is working closely with the BID, The Retail Forum and city’s business leaders to ensure that the city centre remains a safe and welcoming space for all, this is also reliant on the Government being able to implement an effective and reliable Track and Trace programme, which would ensure that the public health risk in the city remains low.
“Today’s statement looked towards next spring, conveniently skipping over what will be the next major challenge for businesses across the country – the end of the Brexit transition period. The most recent studies estimate that the impact of a no-deal Brexit would see a three times larger cost to the UK economy over the longer term as that forecasted for the impact of Covid-19. The Government must urgently provide clarity and support to businesses so not to compound the monumental challenge these last few months have caused for the business community across the country.
“We will continue to work closely with businesses to monitor the situation and the impact of the support measures announced today. I would encourage businesses to contact the Council on firstname.lastname@example.org if there are issues that need to be taken up regarding the recent announcements.”