A leading business organisation says firms are starting to take stock of the support available to them in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has seen an influx of calls from companies across the region looking for help to get them through the crisis and they are helping them to understand their options.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The past two or three weeks have been the most challenging for businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire that most of us can remember.
“Those challenges have been met with wave after wave of Government measures to try to mitigate the economic impact of the Coronavirus and to get companies and their employees through these unprecedented times ready for when we return to some new kind of normal.
“Your Chamber of Commerce is here to support businesses in accessing the help they require but also to identify where there are gaps and to lobby Government on your behalf, which we are doing.
“Over the past couple of days – which feels like a very long time in this crisis – we have seen a slight shift in many businesses’ approach to accessing the support that is available to them.
“Quite understandably, some companies were taking the first offer of support when the crisis first hit because, at that stage, it wasn’t clear to what degree the Government was planning to intervene.
“Now, what we are seeing as a Chamber, is that companies are taking a step back and – with the right advice – looking at which are the best measures for them to take as business.
“The first thing to remember is you are not alone. Every business up and down the country is looking at the best options for them to get and keep more cash in the business.
“One of those options is to furlough staff and we are already seeing a number of companies doing this where the Government will pay 80 per cent of the salary of a member of staff up to £2,500.
“This step gives firms the opportunity to keep staff employed but not active in the business and thereby reduces one of the biggest monthly overheads. You may have heard about this but still not explored the details and I would encourage you to speak to your Chamber about it if you need more help as the scheme is not fully launched by HMRC yet.
“There is also grant-funding available (up to £10,000 in some cases and up to £25,000 in others) for companies meeting certain eligibility and I know from conversations with our local authorities – who will deliver the grants - that they are working extremely hard to get that money out as soon as they ca. Again, speak to us if you want to find out eligibility and how to access the grants.
“Businesses should also speak to their bank/lender about a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan – these are available now to companies with a turnover of £45 million or less. Again, speaking to banks in our area, we know they have seen incredible interest but are processing applications as quickly as possible.
“Further to that there are measures in place around tax and business rates that, again, can reduce the amount of cash coming out of your business at this time.
“Ultimately, my advice to all businesses in this crisis is to talk and seek advice. These measures are brand new and have been designed to help companies get through these unprecedented times.
“That means you may find holes or be unsure about whether certain elements apply to you. There is lots of information out there but that, too, is changing and as a Chamber we are ensuring our communication to business is updated daily – and those gaps are being highlighted to those making decisions at the sharp end of government.
“So, ultimately, I would say use your Chamber, speak to your bank and other professional advisers because we are monitoring this each and every day.
“Finally, a plea that if you see a gap in the help and you would like us to speak to Government on your behalf please let us know as it will apply to other businesses too.”
For more information or support call 024 7665 4321.