regular update from John Bridge OBE DL

Results today from Chamber Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker 10, 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.

On average, businesses said they were at 53 per cent 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. Thirty per cent 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 per cent of businesses reported an increase in late payments from customers when compared with the last six months of 2019.

There is no doubt from the information I am receiving that businesses are grappling with reduced customer demand, an on-going cash crunch, and the potential for further lockdowns during an uncertain autumn and winter ahead.

At the present time I do not believe that the Prime Minister’s encouragement to return to workplaces and further updates to business guidance will be enough on their own.

We still need 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.

You can find further information on the latest tracker here

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01223 237414 •
Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce

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