Sunday, May 31, 2020

Firms ready for ‘new normal’ but gov support must adapt, says BCC

Firms are ready for a gradual reopening of the economy but, according to BCC, they will need continued adaptable government support during a phase return to work.

The latest BCC Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker reveal that firms are ready to embrace the “new normal” but government support must adapt.

The Tracker found that over 70% of respondents have furloughed a portion of their staff, while nearly three quarters of these firms have submitted a claim to the furlough scheme and received payment

The Job Retention Scheme has prevented redundancies for vast majority of respondents.

The weekly tracker poll, which serves as a barometer of the pandemic’s impact on businesses and the effectiveness of government support measures, received 601 responses.

The seventh tranche of polling was conducted from 5 – 8 May, prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement on a roadmap to gradually ease lockdown restrictions and the launch of safe workplace guidance, and the Chancellor’s announcement on the extension of the Job Retention Scheme until the end of October.

The vast majority of respondents continued to report high levels of readiness to restart operations as and when the government eases restrictions, with 89 % requiring three weeks or less to reopen.

This week the survey revealed new information about whether businesses were prepared to implement measures to protect staff and continue operations during the ‘new normal’ as restrictions are eased.

75% agreed they could implement social distancing measures, while the same amount agreed they could make provisions for remote working, with 20 % saying this was not applicable to their business.

61% said they could stagger arrival times, with 29 % saying this was not applicable to their business.

“Government guidance signals big changes for the way that many businesses operate, and some firms will now need time to plan and speak to their employees so that they can return to work safely,” said BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall.

“Alongside this guidance, businesses urgently need clarity on the future of government support schemes, which must be adapted to help those firms who need to remain closed for an extended period or face reduced capacity or demand.”

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