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Businesses Need Urgent Support to Ride Out New Covid Wave, Says BCC

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Businesses will need more support from the government if they are to cope with the challenges presented by a new wave of Covid-19 infections and any associated restrictions.

That’s according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which is worried particularly about the potential impact of the new coronavirus wave on consumer-facing service firms, including retailers and hospitality operators.

A letter outlining some of these concerns has been sent to the chancellor Rishi Sunak by BCC representatives, along with a request for VAT to be reduced and business rates relief to be extended to businesses most badly impacted by the latest wave of Covid-19 and the government’s response.

The BCC’s director general Shevaun Haviland has said that after “speaking to businesses up and down the country,” she feels the government must take action and provide support to struggling firms if the UK’s economic recovery is to continue into next year.

“It is simply not good enough for the government to say at this juncture that ‘enough support has been provided’ and leave it at that,” Ms Haviland has said.

Reflecting particularly on the situation for hospitality, events and retail businesses, she added: “They have strained every sinew to get to this point but now face being hamstrung during this crucial festive period through no fault of their own.”

Among the requests made by the BCC of the government after its so-called ‘Plan B’ public health policies were introduced recently was that new grant funding should be made available to hard-pressed businesses, along with 100 per cent business rates relief for retailers.

Sectors most exposed to new measures made necessary by the recent uptick in Covid cases should also see a partial reintroduction of the furlough scheme, according to the BCC.

The organisation has also suggested that there should be more support given to companies that took on debt earlier in the pandemic and are now finding it tough to cope financially.

It has also been proposed by the BCC that HMRC should proactively outline what help it can offer to businesses at risk of insolvency where it is itself regarded as a preferential creditor.

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