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Suffolk business waits to see whether government move will save economy

PUBLISHED: 13:54 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:55 18 March 2020

Businesses are suffering with most people staying at home.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Businesses are suffering with most people staying at home. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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What will this mean for us? That was the question being asked by business and political leaders in Suffolk after studying details of the government’s rescue plan for the British economy earlier this week.

There were warnings that although there could be some medium-term relief for some firms, this help might be quick enough for some businesses who need immediate help to tide them over major bills that are coming in.

Paul Simon from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said: “Rishi Sunak’s announcements certainly involve big numbers in order to boost business confidence and support over the medium-term through loan guarantees.

“However, Suffolk Chamber’s members and the wider business community, especially in the most vulnerable sectors such as hospitality and logistics, need significant help with their cashflow NOW to pay their staff and keep trading.

“This means the Government must implement a moratorium, of at least three months, on those taxes which will eat away at companies’ margins: business rates, commercial rents, NI employer contributions and VAT.

“This would deliver an enormous boost to thousands of businesses. And unlike the administration of loan guarantees, this approach would benefit the business community positively much sooner.”

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Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said: “Whenever statements like this are made which will have such a significant impact on people’s livelihoods, there is a focus on the detail which sometimes takes more time to come out.

“Many small business owners have already contacted me about how they can access the cash grants which will now be worth £10,000 and I’m urgently looking to obtain further information about this.

“I am fully aware that time is of the essence for their businesses and I’ll be working directly with pubs, shops and other local companies over the coming weeks and months. I will be available to meet with landlords, local business owners and store managers to go in to detail about the specific challenges they are facing.

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And Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said: “These are extraordinary times and we are likely to be living with COVID-19 for many months, and perhaps well into next year.

“The measures taken by the chancellor are a good start in supporting businesses to weather the storm but more will likely be needed to be done to support people who are self-employed and on lower incomes in the months ahead.”

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