Covid-19: Norfolk businesses face huge cashflow challenges

Norfolk Chambers recently surveyed the local business community to understand what challenges they were facing and the kind of support that the Chambers could offer them.  With well over 100 businesses responding from a cross-section of the community, the results highlighted that 77% of businesses in our region cited cashflow as their number one challenge at present.

With the recent heavy impact of the Corona Virus on our business community, many businesses have had to ask staff to either work from home, furlough them, or in some instances make them redundant.  The results represented firms employing over 2,200 people between them.  When asked where their staff currently where, as a result of Covid-19, they advised that 43% were still operating within the workplace – these being key workers and predominantly manufacturers.  23% were working from home, with a further 32% furloughed and just 2% had had to make staff redundant.

Other challenges being faced by the business community were:

  • Issues accessing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – with banks currently struggling to cope with high demand and long delays on lending decisions
  • Owner/Directors who are paid by dividend – do not currently qualify for any financial support
  • Staff employed after 28 February are ineligible for the Jobs Retention Scheme – firms are making redundancies and losing talented individuals
  • Lack of clarity and certainty around how to implement to various government support schemes
  • Delays in getting business rate grants from local authorities
  • Start-up businesses i.e. less than 2 years old are not currently eligible for any support due to lack of published accounts

Commenting on the current crisis being faced by Norfolk’s business community, Nova Fairbank, Head of Policy for Norfolk Chambers said:

“We are working hard, in conjunction with the UK-wide Chamber network to ensure that the support mechanisms the government has put in place actually reach those on the ground who need it the most. 

“We continue to lobby Westminster to better understand the challenges being faced by business on a daily basis and urge them to close the obvious gaps, such as parity for Owner/Directors. 

“With regard to CIBLS, more needs to be done by our banks.  Whilst we understand the logistical challenges they are facing, the financial need for many firms is urgent and not something that can wait to be delivered in many weeks or months time.”  

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