LCCI: furlough and loans extension welcomed, but further rates support needed

Thursday 17 December 2020

LCCI has today welcomed the Government extending the furlough scheme until the end of April, and the government guaranteed loan schemes until March. But has urged the business rates holiday is extended into the next financial year to provide more certainty for London's businesses.

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The impact of Covid-19 restrictions, the potential of Brexit economic impact, and economic benefit from vaccine roll-out unlikely to be seen before the Spring at earliest, all amount to a perfect storm for the economy in Q1 2021. 

“The ability for businesses to plan their outgoings is vital to both survival and recovery, so we welcome the Chancellor providing certainty about the terms of furlough until the end of April, and also the availability of government guaranteed loans until the end of March. It is provisionally pleasing to hear that there will also be a replacement loan scheme beyond March also.

“But, with recovery in mind, the end of the business rates holiday will soon loom large.  Particularly with high rate costs in London.  We urge the Chancellor to provide further certainty for 2021 recovery by extending the rate-holiday period. The Government must also increase available grants to the hospitality and cultural sector – who are now faced with overheads yet limited ways in which to generate revenue, and many have no way to trade at all.  So many such businesses in London have spent huge sums of money getting themselves covid secure, stocked and reopen – only to be shut within weeks, through no fault of their own.

“The ability to recover is also dependent on banks, and their pace of delivery of the government loan schemes.  The retail banks need to continue to demonstrate that they understand their role in helping businesses to survive in order to play a part in the UK’s recovery from Covid-19.  When all this is over, we will judge the banks on their willingness to support a nation in crisis”