It was revealed at the weekend that a further £5bn is being made available to high street firms and the hospitality sector, with grants of up to £18,000 on offer to individual businesses.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was crucial to get the money to businesses as quickly as possible – and that she had every confidence in the local authorities in the region to do that.
She said: “Businesses are desperate to get back to being able to trade again but for those that have, essentially, been dormant they are going to need help and these restart grants will be extremely welcome from that point of view.
“The key is getting the money to firms that need it as quickly as possible so they can avoid a cashflow cliff edge and, also, prepare themselves to get back to business. “The local authorities in Coventry and Warwickshire have done an amazing job during the Covid-19 crisis in acting quickly and it’s vital that they do that once again to get this cash to those businesses that need it most.
“And, while we welcome this help from the Chancellor and acknowledge the unprecedented levels of support that have been offered during the crisis, it’s still crucial that he doesn’t try to recoup that money through increased business tax in this week’s Budget.
“We all understand that the money will need to be paid back at some point but it’s too early, with the economy still some way off reopening in full, to expect that of business.”
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Chambers of Commerce have campaigned for additional grants to support the cash flow of our hardest-hit businesses, particularly those who have faced severe restrictions or closure in recent months. We welcome the announcement of these additional cash grants, which will be a lifeline for many firms as they look to restart and rebuild over the challenging months ahead. The Government, devolved administrations and local authorities must now make sure that cash gets to the front line fast.
“While the announcement of additional grants is positive, a support plan that covers the rest of 2021 would really help to build business confidence. That means removing the immediate cliff edges on support by continuing the furlough scheme and VAT deferrals for as long as they are needed. Business rates relief for the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors should also continue until next year.
“Critically, the government needs to send the right signals to firms and investors by avoiding hasty rises in business taxation. The best way to raise money for the Exchequer will be to give companies the breathing space they need, as the economy reopens, to generate revenue and return to profit.”