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Most Suffolk businesses will furlough workers during coronavirus, survey finds

PUBLISHED: 15:46 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:46 02 April 2020

Ipswich on day seven of lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich on day seven of lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Nearly three-quarters of businesses in Suffolk will have to furlough employees during the coronavirus pandemic according to a new survey.

The poll conducted by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce found that 73% of the businesses that responded have, or will apply to, furlough workers using the new government scheme.

This sees the government pay 80% of the salary of workers who are laid off during the disruption caused by the disease – up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

MORE: Praise for Suffolk brewer Adnams after it cancels landlords’ rent during Covid-19 crisis

Many of the 143 businesses which responded to this latest survey are also making use of other measures put in place by the government.

These include 56% which are applying to defer their VAT payments and income tax; 35% which are expecting to benefit from business rates relief; and 31% which are making use of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – which provides government backed bank loans to businesses during COVID-19.

However the Chamber found that the majority – 70% – of businesses found the schemes difficult to access and many were not covered at all. Among those not covered by the Job Retention Scheme and CBILS are self-employed company directors.

The issues facing businesses this week are similar to those found in previous surveys. A loss of cash flow, now or in the near future, is a concern for 89% of businesses compared to 86% last week. Access to domestic customers is a problem for 55% of businesses compared to 44% last week. Accessing overseas customers is only a problem for 16% of businesses.

Find all of our coronavirus coverage here.

Paul Simon, the Chamber’s head of communications & campaigns, said: “These figures suggest that, while well-intentioned in its endeavours, the government needs to speed up the responsiveness of its various business assistance schemes.

“In particular, we are lobbying the Government urgently to revisit the CBILS scheme both to ensure that lenders offer such loans alongside their own commercial products and to widen it to allow self-employed directors to apply. 
“We hope that the government will listen to the experiences of Suffolk businesses, and those elsewhere in the country, and are hopeful that some progress will be made during the evening announcements.”

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