Norfolk businesses cited concerns on social distancing and future business demand

Norfolk Chambers recently surveyed the local business community to understand what challenges they were facing and how they were coping with the lockdown and potential easing of these measures. 

A cross-section of the business community responded and the results highlighted that 34% of businesses had concerns about implementing social distancing in their workplaces and 32% of businesses cited concerns over future business demand.

The results represented firms employing over 1,433 people between them.  When asked where their staff currently where, as a result of Covid-19, they advised that 29% were still operating within the workplace; 25% were working from home; and a further 34% had furloughed their staff.  Just 1% had had to make staff redundant, whilst 11% had terminated zero hours or contracted personnel.

When asked about gearing up and re-opening their premises, 54% of respondents said this could be done within 1 to 5 days, and 23% within 1 to 2 weeks.  A further 18% said they would need 3 weeks or more to be ready to open.

Other results showed:

  • 26% had received a Small Business Grant
  • 47% had deferred the Tax and VAT payments
  • 18% had requested a business rates holiday
  • 1% had successfully applied for and received a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan
  • 33% had applied for a Bounce Back Loan
  • 7% of businesses were concerned about future cashflow

Commenting on the results, Nova Fairbank, Head of Policy for Norfolk Chambers said:

“Norfolk businesses are clearly concerned about implementing the social distancing measures.  As the lockdown is eased, clear guidance and information on what each business must do to ensure their workplace is safe, must be available.

“Norfolk Chambers welcomed the government’s recent announcement that the furlough scheme would be extended until the end of October.  However, business concerns around future demand highlights that a phased approach and lots of flexibility with the furlough scheme will be needed.  Businesses are facing the challenge of balancing between bringing staff back and having sufficient business demand to generate the income to pay them.”

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