As firms begin to restart working operations, one in ten say they cannot implement government guidance safely.
- 83% of those surveyed know either some or a lot of detail about government guidance on working safely
- 37% of businesses stated they are in a position to implement the guidance and fully restart
- 45% stated they are able to partially restart
- 10% did not agree that they would be ready to implement guidance and restart operations, with most citing social distancing measures as causing significant difficulty
Business furloughing employees
- Around 70% had now furloughed some or all of their staff
- 85% had now received payment from the furlough scheme
Bounce Back Loans
- 54% who had attempted to access BBL’s had received a loan
- 38% of respondents were awaiting a decision on a loan
It is now over a week since the Prime Minister set out to the nation his ‘roadmap’ for easing the lockdown and restarting the economy. In his speech, Boris Johnson urged those who are unable to work from home, where it is safe to do so to return to work.
As many more business prepare to reopen in the coming weeks it is vital that they are able to do so safely and in line with the government’s guidance.
The overwhelming majority of firms surveyed this week expressed a strong understanding of the government’s new workplace guidance, which was released last week.
Only 37% stated they would be in a position to restart working operations by implementing the government guidance.
Of those surveyed, 1 in 10 did not agree they would be ready to implement guidance and restart work, with social distancing being cited as difficult. In our latest survey of Shropshire businesses, we found that many are worried about being able to safely reopen in the weeks and months ahead. Some Shropshire firms called for greater clarity on specific sectors re-opening their workplaces, and for greater information from government on their longer-term plans.
The BCC network has called for further clarity, especially for those businesses which will not re-open until July at the earliest and whose working operations may struggle to implement social distancing measures.
Moving onto furlough, across the UK over 7 and a half million people’s wages are now being paid in some way by the Treasury under The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which The Chancellor announced last week will be extended (in some capacity) until the end of October. This unprecedented measure is welcomed by the BCC network and has been vital in keeping so many people across Shropshire and the UK employed.
Around 70% of firms surveyed by the BCC had now furloughed some or all of their staff, a figure wholly unchanged from last week. Comparatively, In Shropshire our survey found that around 60% had furloughed staff. Similarly, to last week’s survey firms with less cash reserves (who have less than three months in reserves) continue to be more likely to furlough their staff.
Of those who had submitted a claim to HMRC under the Job Retention Scheme, 85% stated they had received payment which is an increase from 73% on the previous week and 59% on the week before that. Despite the improvements in these figures, which are welcomed by the BCC network firms still require additional reassurances from government that financial support schemes will remain in place for as long as is necessary.
Businesses from the hospitality and leisure industry in Shropshire have expressed deep concerns around changes to financial aid once lockdown measures are eased, but social distancing measures remain in place. It is therefore imperative that the government continue to offer financial assistance to those hit hardest by the crisis.
Moving forward, BCC Director General Adam Marshall has stated the furlough scheme must adapt to help firms keep as many jobs as possible, citing a need for positive restructuring and re-configuration of the scheme.
The lobbying group UK Finance announced yesterday that over £22bn has now been provided to over half a million businesses via government backed interruption loans. Of this, over £14bn has been paid via the new Bounce Back Loan (BBL) Scheme in the two weeks since its launch.
Over half (54%) of those surveyed who had attempted to secure a loan reported success, a figure which has almost doubled on the previous week. Furthermore, 38% stated that they are still awaiting a decision, where last week almost 60% who had applied were awaiting a decision.
As a Chamber network, although we welcome the increase in the loans provided, we’re calling for government to consider expanding the grant schemes to ensure businesses who’ve slipped through the net gain access.
In Shropshire we found that many firms are still experiencing slow and difficult applications when applying for government backed interruption loans.
Many firms are understandably concerned about taking on additional debt at such a difficult and uncertain time. Therefore, government should also consider analysing ways in which smaller loans could be turned into grants or written off over a period of time.