Small firms cheer new lockdown support and call for further evolution

Responding to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement of new Job Support Scheme (JSS) terms and enhanced cash grants for firms in England still facing additional lockdown restrictions, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry, said:

“It’s good to see our recommendations concerning more generous furlough-level wage support and enhanced local cash grants for those in England prevented from operating adopted today. These new measures will bring some hope to those businesses which are still bearing the brunt of restrictions, six months on from the first lockdown, and are likely soon to have further restrictions expanded to include them.

“We now need to look at what comes next in terms of further evolution of support mechanisms, especially for those who will not directly benefit from today’s announcement.

“They include those who have been forced to close but don’t occupy premises, as well as those who are being told to stay shut regardless of location – among them bulwarks of our night-time economies and event industries. While support is being more closely targeted at certain kinds of businesses, we must be alert to suffering right the way down supply chains.

“Thousands of company directors and newly self-employed people are still without any income support, 200 days on from the outset of this crisis.

“A comprehensive rescue package for those excluded is urgently needed. Policymakers should also go further to cut day-to-day overheads for small firms. Our business rates system remains an outdated drag on too many, despite very welcome efforts to relieve the strain for some.

“Where job creation is concerned, we urgently need to see a cut in Employer National Insurance Contributions.

“With thousands still struggling to access bounce back loans, the Treasury should now be looking at what succeeds emergency loan schemes to ensure that banks keep lending to small firms beyond the end of this year, thereby stimulating the real economy.

“Start-ups and sole traders were fundamental to our recovery from the last recession. If we want them to play that role again we have to pull out all the stops to support them. A scheme modelled on the new Kickstart initiative for those looking to strike-out on their own could mark one way forward, building on the success of the New Enterprise Allowance and Start-Up Loans programme.”

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