Plea for ‘imperative’ support for under pressure businesses during second lockdown

PUBLISHED: 14:28 02 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:23 02 November 2020

Andy Walker, head of policy and research at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: SUFFOLK CHAMBERS

Andy Walker, head of policy and research at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: SUFFOLK CHAMBERS

Suffolk Chamber

Under pressure businesses in Suffolk need financial support as an “imperative” to get through the second coronavirus lockdown, the county’s chamber of commerce has said.

Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops across Suffolk are facing the prospect of closure for at least the next four weeks under the latest restrictions to curb the spread of the disease.

Andy Walker, head of policy and research at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, has pleaded with the government to continue helping firms which were still recovering from the first lockdown in the spring.

He said: “Saturday’s announcement will come as a frustrating blow for many businesses in Suffolk who, for now, have seen some of the lowest Covid rates in the country.

“It is now imperative, however, that the government continues to provide as much financial assistance as possible to businesses, including grants and support for Business Rates.

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“The extension of the furlough scheme is good news for many but an exit strategy and long-term plan as to how businesses can reopen and stay open during the winter period is now needed.

“We will be speaking to our MPs about this at the first possible opportunity.”

The furlough scheme had originally been planned to end on Saturday but will now be extended.

The original scheme, which was announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in the spring, paid 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

It was due to be replaced by the Job Support Scheme, worth 49% of wages or 67% for employees of businesses forced to close in Tier 3 areas.

Further details on how the latest scheme will look like are yet to be announced. However, it is thought to be in line with the original furlough scheme.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said he was under “no illusions” about how difficult a second lockdown will be for businesses which have already had to endure “such hardship” this year.

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