Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Businesses will be disappointed by this setback to the reopening in England. This delay to the removal of restrictions will come as a hammer blow to those firms who must remain closed, and to those who continue to see their ability to trade severely restricted.
“Many firms have fought incredibly hard to stay afloat through-out the pandemic and are struggling with the damage done to their cashflow and revenue. They are desperate to play their part in the recovery. We must ensure they receive the support, and the clarity, that will give them a chance to do that.
“It would be extraordinary if we saw government retracting support to businesses now, given that some firms will remain unable to fully trade and others effectively forced not to trade at all.”
On business support, she said:
“The government must provide further cash grants, at least equivalent to levels provided during the first lockdown, and delay the tapering of government payments into the furlough scheme, planned for the start of July. The government should also consider extending the trade credit reinsurance scheme beyond the end of June to minimise possible disruptions in insurance coverage.
“Government should work with lenders to ensure that appropriate forbearance is in place for those who have used government lending schemes and already started to repay their loan without being able to open fully.
“An extension of the VAT deferral scheme and the 100% Business Rates relief for eligible businesses should also be considered given the length of the delay and the impact on hospitality and leisure firms.”
On free testing, she said:
“One of the many things businesses need to know is how long free testing will continue for.
“For reasons of business and employee confidence, as well as public health, Government must guarantee free testing for all for at-least the medium term.”