‘It is absolutely critical that support translates into money in the bank’

Apr 06, 2020

CHAMBERS of Commerce across the UK are lobbying the government for the supports ministers have pledged during the coronavirus pandemic to be transferred into hard cash as soon as possible.

Feedback from the business community has been clear: that a significant number of companies are falling through the gaps when it comes to existing support. These include:

  • Shareholder directors in limited companies where most of their income is from dividends; 
  • Small firms not eligible for grant support; 
  • Mid-sized businesses that are too big or do not meet the criteria for CBILS;
  • Companies that hired staff after February 28.
Justin Richardson, chief executive of Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce.

They face devastating consequences, unless action is taken, says the British Chambers of Commerce.

In an update to Bedfordshire members, Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Justin Richardson said: “Businesses have welcomed these support measures but it is clear from the companies we have spoken to that it is absolutely critical that this support translates to money in the bank as quickly as possible.

“As a network, we are lobbying government daily to ensure these gaps are closed. I wanted to share the sensible and practical changes to existing government support measures.”

The Chamber, as part of the BCC, is urging the following:

Shareholder directors in limited companies The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for shareholder directors who furlough themselves should be extended to cover 80% of average monthly earnings from dividends, as well as salary paid through PAYE. This would be based on average earnings over the last three years and capped at £2,500.

Small firms that are not eligible for grant support Expand cash grant scheme for those eligible for SBRR to all small businesses irrespective if they have a rateable property, to help meet their ongoing business costs. This could be delivered directly by HMRC.

Mid-sized businesses that are too big for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme Suspend the rules on state aid to allow for businesses with an annual turnover of over £45 million to access CBILS. A debt for equity solution for larger mid-cap firms should also be considered.

Firms that hired staff after February 28, 2020 Extend the date that furloughed employees must have been on a firm’s PAYE payroll from the current date of February 28 2020 to March 23 2020. This would allow firms that continued to create jobs in the weeks before the lockdown in the UK was announced to retain those jobs if they are forced to reduce their operations.

Mr Richardson said: “As ever your views are critical and I am keen to hear the impact on you and your business so we can continue to overcome these hurdles and ensure the voice of the Bedfordshire business community is heard at every level of government.

“The Chamber team remains fully available, albeit remotely, to help support you through the weeks ahead.”

by ANDREW GIBBS e: news@businessmk.co.uk

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