daily update from John Bridge OBE DL

Businesses operating at just half of normal capacity

Results from the latest BCC Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker 9, in partnership with job site Indeed, reveal that businesses are operating at half of their pre-COVID-19 capacity on average, despite lockdown measures easing.
More than half cited reduced demand and possible future lockdowns as major obstacles to restarting day-to-day operations.

On average, businesses said they were at 53% of their full pre-COVID-19 capacity. Customer demand (54%) and possible future local lockdowns (52%) were cited as the top two obstacles to maintaining day-to-day operations. 30% said other business costs, such as rent or salaries, were a major obstacle.

The steep decline in business conditions seen at the start of the pandemic is levelling off, but firms still face extremely challenging conditions:

• Almost half (46%) reported a slight or significant decrease in revenue from UK customers compared to June

• 44% reported a slight or significant decrease in revenue from overseas customers, with 34% reporting no change

• 56% of firms reported a slight or significant decrease in cashflow.

Concerningly, 43% of businesses reported an increase in late payments from customers when compared with the last six months of 2019.

From my perspective it is clear that the UK’s economic restart is still very much in first gear.

Businesses we regularly speak to are grappling with reduced customer demand, an on-going cash crunch, and the potential for further lockdowns during an uncertain autumn and winter ahead.

What is clear is that the Prime Minister’s encouragement to return to workplaces with further updates to business guidance will not be enough on their own.

The time is coming for the government to take radical steps to slash the tax burden around employment to help companies pay valued staff, rather than the Revenue. A major boost to the Employment Allowance, and an increase in the threshold for employers’ National Insurance contributions, should both be in the Chancellor’s sights if he wants to help viable companies save jobs as the furlough scheme comes to an end.

A summary of the report can be found here

Championing Business Launch Event

Join me tomorrow at 4.00pm to learn about our new Championing Business initiative. Hear the key ingredients necessary for rebuilding the local economy and continuing to trade internationally after the Brexit transition period ends. You will also hear from four of our Local Business Champions.

Register your place here.

Business rates review call for evidence

Following the announcement of a review at the March budget, the government have now published details of the call for evidence. They are seeking responses in two phases. Firstly, views on the multiplier and reliefs, by 18 September, to inform an interim report in the Autumn. Secondly, responses on all other sections by 31 October ahead of the review’s conclusion in Spring 2021.

For your information business rates revaluation - the next revaluation of non-domestic property in England - will take effect on 1 April 2023 and will be based on property values as of 1 April 2021.


Contact the Chamber

01223 237414 •
Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce

Clifford House • 2 Station Yard • Oakington • CB24 3AH • United Kingdom