Government support for business remains vital over next four months

Author
Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
23rd February 2021

Many of our companies, I am afraid, will have been disappointed by the Prime Minister’s much trailed roadmap to take us out of the stranglehold of the Covid pandemic.

It certainly did not give many of them real hope of surviving the next few months when they are already in intensive care with jobs and their whole futures hanging by a thread.

This is particularly so in the hard-hit hospitality sector where so many restaurants and nightclubs will not be able to open to trade until June.

So, support for business is now crucial for them to hang on for up to four months before being able to open.

And to trade viably, a lot of these businesses are going to rely on Rishi Sunak in next Wednesday’s Budget to ensure that the furlough scheme is extended at least to the summer.

And while Boris Johnson’s announcements yesterday were broadly welcomed by business, the whole future of many companies will only be guaranteed if the Budget delivers a big support programme.

And Boris Johnson was obviously aware of this when he promised business: “We will not pull the rug out”.

So, we wait for next Wednesday to see what companies will be offered to give them a lifeline.

I hope Rishi Sunak will also deliver an extension the business rates holiday too. It is an iniquitous tax that really needs to be reformed or scrapped.

We must, of course, all welcome the announcement that all schools will return on 8 March.

To see the kids on BBC Points West last night literally jumping for joy at the prospect of seeing their friends and teachers again was lovely.

What we saw yesterday - in the Commons and on television last night - was a Prime Minister who was something of a changed man.

He was cautious and measured.  Boris Johnson seemed to be intent on not falling into the trap of overpromising and not delivering.

He promised us a one-way road to freedom when he talked to the nation last night with a spring and summer of hope.

“The crocus hope is poking through the frost”, he said.

Business will trust him for now, but he and his chancellor must deliver for them.

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