25th Feb, 2021

Region's businesses call on Chancellor for continued pandemic support

MORE help is needed by firms in Coventry and Warwickshire from Chancellor Rishi Sunak when he delivers his budget next month (March 3), says a regional business organisation.

Businesses from across the region came together on the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s (CWCC) online Economic ‘Bring Your Own Breakfast’ event, to analyse the regional economy and the effect the Covid-19 crisis has had.

The event heard from CWCC chief executive Louise Bennett, Warwickshire County Council economist Sunny Parekh, and Steve Harcourt, director at Prime Accountants Group.

There were also contributions from Nick Abell, chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Tom Mongan, president of the Chamber.

After looking back at the Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for the final quarter of 2020 – which had been the most positive since the crisis began – attention was turned to looking ahead to how businesses in the region might perform over the next 12 months.

Steve Harcourt said: “The Chancellor has already supported businesses with an incredible £330billion to help firms survive and avoid many more job losses than those we have seen already.

“The Covid-19 crisis has not only taken its toll when it comes to health, it has had a much bigger economic impact than any of us were predicting this time a year ago.

“The roll-out of the vaccine started to see optimism return to some businesses at the end of 2020 – it was the light at the end of the tunnel that we all needed. But we are not out of the woods yet.

“Since the final QES of 2020, we’ve moved into another lockdown and the transition period with the EU has come to an end.

“It means that businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire – and beyond – are still facing huge uncertainty and are going to need more support from the Chancellor in his Budget. It will be too early for him to start looking to raise taxes to pay off some of the support he’s given over the past year.

“Extending furlough – even if it were sector-specific to those hit hardest – would be welcomed. I also believe businesses need an extension or further deferment on VAT to give companies more time to pay.

“Business Rate relief is another area where the Chancellor can support firms with their cashflow and we would also hope to see more help for the self-employed.

“Ultimately, the Government’s support for business over the past year has helped to keep insolvencies relatively low and has prevented many more job losses than would have happened otherwise.

“It’s crucial, therefore, that ending the support doesn’t cause a cliff edge and undo all of that.”

Louise Bennett added: “It was great to engage with so many businesses from a broad range of sectors at our economic breakfast. We are constantly listening to our members to understand their on-going challenges and events such as this give businesses a direct voice to influence our campaigns and lobbying at the highest levels.

“It’s clear that good, viable businesses are still going to need help in order to survive the next few months as we hopefully start to return to some kind of normality.

“I’d also encourage businesses to make sure they take part in our latest QES because that is another way for us to gain tangible insight to the bigger picture across the region and provides us with important data and business sentiment when we are speaking up for companies on our patch to local, regional and national Government.”

Visit www.https://tinyurl.com/1t95m5fz to take part in the latest QES.

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