Chamber responds to Chancellor’s announcement of further support for businesses

Date: 22/10/2020
Author: Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Company: Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement of further support for businesses, Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, Head of Research at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: Businesses across the UK and their employees will welcome the additional support that the Chancellor has today announced for areas with tier 2 restrictions. The measures announced are indeed an improvement in the support available to businesses struggling with the impact of increasing restrictions across the UK.  

Data gathered by the Chamber shows that many businesses in Greater Manchester are facing serious cash flow problems. The reduction in employers’ contribution to staff salaries will alleviate the cash pressures that businesses are facing. Although some backdated grants are now available, some businesses will rightly feel aggrieved that these support measures were not announced earlier, which could have provided certainty.  

“Greater Manchester Chamber has consistently called for support to be commensurate with the restrictions imposed on businesses. There has also been concerted effort by everyone right across our city region to make clear to government why extra funding was a necessary factor to support Greater Manchester’s move to Tier3. The measures announced today will address some of the concerns that local leaders raised during their negotiations with central government. Yet, workers placed under the Job Support Scheme will have to forego one-third of their salary.  

Today’s intervention by the Chancellor is the sixth since March. While the Chancellor must be given credit for listening to the call from the Chamber of Commerce network for enhanced support, it does raise an important question: why are critical support programmes being announced piecemeal? Surely, it would be beneficial to offer clarity and chart a longer-term recovery path for businesses and their employees, who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Without a longer-term programme of business support, the path to economic recovery will be thorny. Some level of restrictions are certain to remain in place for several months. The constraints placed on businesses’ ability to trade normally and reduced personal incomes and are like to dampen the crucial festive trading period.  

Ministers must now co-operate with local leaders to ensure that local needs are adequately met and offer flexibility to ensure that grants are quickly delivered to deserving businesses, including those in the hospitality supply chain.