Rishi Sunak’s Winter Economy Plan: Business West response

September 24, 2020

The Winter Economic Plan announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak today may help stave off mass unemployment, but it failed to target support to those sectors that need it most, according to the West of England’s largest business organisation.

Business West, which runs the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, along with other business groups, had urged Mr Sunak to offer more tailored support to industries facing the biggest threat from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, such as aerospace and hospitality. 

It also pointed out that the Job Support Scheme will cost employers more than the furlough scheme it replaces.

Business West policy manager Claire Ralph said: “Business will welcome the government’s latest intervention to stave off mass unemployment within the South West region, but will no doubt be concerned about the limits to extended support.

“Most notably, the Job Support Scheme is considerably less generous than its predecessor, given that employers will pay at least 55% of employees’ salaries from November 1.

“The Chancellor has opened this up to all sectors, rather than offering the more tailored support for those which have disproportionately affected that many, including Business West, have been calling for.

“This is a concern given aerospace, the night-time economy and cultural and heritage industries contribute so much economic output and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs to our region. The Chancellor isn’t attempting to target support to where it is most likely to be needed.”

She said extensions to the Self Employment scheme and the government-backed loan schemes were welcome to assist cashflow for struggling businesses, and longer repayment terms for loans and tax deferrals could be critical to prevent insolvencies in those with the fewest reserves to cope over the winter.

“Overall, the scale of today’s announcement was very much smaller than those made in July and March but is overdue and we hope it will help some employers and businesses make it through to Spring 2021,” she said.



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