key update from John Bridge OBE DL

Despite hoping for a downward movement in our tiers there is regretfully more disappointment for our business communities, who are already suffering from reduced capacity, demand and cashflow.

This is particularly challenging for businesses already in Tier 3 in Stamford and now those in Peterborough moving to Tier 3 tomorrow. For the rest of our area the challenges of being in Tier 2 continue.

The vaccine programme is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. However, until it is rolled out fully, government must make improving its Test, Trace and Isolate system a priority, with a greater emphasis on mass workplace testing – particularly in our Tier 3 areas - to get more business back up and running.

As a Chamber we are clear that government financial support must be commensurate with the impact on businesses particularly those in Peterborough and Stamford. To avoid mass redundancies and further business failures, more support will need to be extended to firms, particularly those reliant on workers returning to town and city centres, as well as those integrated in wider supply chains.

The full list of local restriction tiers by area can be found here .  

The Government's rationale for the decisions taken in each area which has just been published can be found here . However the accompanying data awaits publication.

A reminder of the details of Tiers 2 and 3 are as follows:

UK's furlough and loan scheme to be extended

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced yesterday (17 December) that the UK's furlough scheme will be extended for an extra month until the end of April 2021. Under the furlough scheme, employees placed on leave receive 80 per cent of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Businesses will also be given until the end of March 2021 to access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. These had been due to close at the end of January. Further information can be found here

This extension to the furlough scheme is welcome and will provide much needed certainly and support that many need to protect jobs and livelihoods.

Over the coming months, the government should continue to listen to business and evolve its support measures with the on the ground impact of the pandemic. Further cashflow support will be needed for companies who are unable to operate for an extended period, or those who face reduced capacity or demand due to ongoing restrictions.

Cashflow remains an urgent concern for many businesses, so the extension to the government-backed loan schemes is a common-sense step.

However, it is concerning that many firms who bank with non-accredited lenders remain effectively locked out of these vital financial lifelines. Government, regulators and banks must work together to ensure that all eligible firms can access this support to help them weather this challenging period.

Government must also be ready to further expand the existing grant schemes to ensure that as many businesses as possible get access to the support they need.

Financial support currently available for businesses in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3:

Guidance for the Christmas period

Following the review of tiers the government has updated its guidance applicable to all of us for the Christmas period which can be accessed here

Budget 2021 date announced

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced here that the government will publish its next Budget on Wednesday 3 March 2021.

Contact the Chamber

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Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce
Clifford House • 2 Station Yard • Oakington • CB24 3AH • United Kingdom