Jo James, Kent Invicta Chamber CEO says restrictions easing delay until July 19 is a 'hammer blow' for firms

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A leading business figure has described the delay in the easing of Covid restrictions as a "hammer blow" to firms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night confirmed the expected lifting of all restrictions on June 21 would now be delayed until July 19 after a rise in the number of cases of the Delta variant of Covid - first seen in India.

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Jo James
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Jo James

But there has been no additional financial support offered by the government for firms whose bottom lines will take a further hit as a result - while firms will be expected to pay a bigger chunk of furlough payments from next month before the scheme ends in September.

Jo James, chief executive of the Kent Invicta Chamber 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 throughout 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.

Many firms will still be unable to open - while the work from home order guidance stays in place
Many firms will still be unable to open - while the work from home order guidance stays in place

“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.”

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