Business West welcomes Chancellor’s latest support measures for firms closed by Covid

October 12, 2020

New support for firms forced to close by law because of coronavirus restrictions by Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been welcomed by Business West, the organisation behind the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative.

The scheme, under which the government will pay two-thirds of the wages of staff working for these firms, was announced on Friday. It begins on November 1 and will last for six months. 

There will also be an increase in business grants – with up to £3,000 a month paid every fortnight – for firms forced to close.

The Chancellor, pictured, spoke ahead of a further tightening of lockdown rules expected next week in some parts of the country – although the West of England is not thought to be included.

Business West managing director Phil Smith said the measures provided some much-needed additional relief for businesses.

But he said the government  could do more to help firms hit but not closed by the restrictions.

“We particularly welcome that this support will be available to all mandatorily closed businesses, including those in the West Country, and not just confined to those parts of England which are facing second lockdowns,” he said.

“It is right that the Chancellor has responded to our long-standing calls for more local support. More generous cash grants will be of some help, but for most this will not be enough to offset a sustained cash crunch.

“As welcome as this new support will be for companies shut down by government decree, Covid-19 restrictions are still having a material impact on many other firms, especially in supply chains and in town and city centres. Their cashflow concerns, and worries about future demand, must be heeded.

“Many will now have run low on previous packages of government support or may have received very limited support in the first instance. Much will depend on the details that follow this announcement.

“At the end of the day, no fiscal support will ever be a substitute for an open, functioning economy. While the Chancellor deserves thanks for enhancing the support on offer, the goal of all governments across the UK must be to get to a point where wide-ranging restrictions, and the economic disruption they bring, are no longer needed.”

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