The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called on the chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak to change his approach to providing support to businesses across the UK economy.
As a prominent business lobby organisation, the BCC has been closely monitoring the impact of the coronavirus crisis and the government’s emergency support measures in recent months.
Its view is that schemes announced by the government in its ‘Summer Statement’ have not had the desired effect or a high degree of engagement among businesses, which is being taken as a sign that the chancellor needs to rethink his policies as a matter of urgency.
The BCC’s co-executive director Claire Walker has said that the government should be looking seriously at how it might act to alleviate the tax burdens on businesses to provide a greater degree of financial flexibility in the context of the ongoing crisis.
“Expected usage of schemes announced in the Summer Statement is relatively low, indicating they do not provide the right kind of support for many businesses at this critical time and a rethink is needed,” Ms Walker said in a statement.
“With confidence and demand not returning at the scale firms need, the government must take radical steps to slash the tax burden around employment to help companies pay valued staff.”
The BCC has said that businesses across the economy continue to face major challenges, not least a prolonged downturn in sales, which has helped push “many firms” into cashflow problems and the point of showing one or more “signs of distress”.
Among the concerns raised by the BCC is that companies that are viable but struggling will continue to be left with little choice but to cut jobs at a significant scale unless government action can be taken to help them avoid that situation.
“A major boost to the Employment Allowance, and an increase in the threshold for employers’ National Insurance contributions are needed now if he [the chancellor] wants to help viable companies save jobs as the furlough scheme comes to an end,” Ms Walker added in her remarks on the issue.