Tier system will only work with right guidance and funding, say small firms

Responding to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech in the Commons this afternoon, in which he outlined a new three-tier coronavirus restriction system for businesses in England, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry said:

“Small businesses recognise that safety must come first. However, there’s no escaping the fact that this new system will mean huge disruption for firms all over England, many of which have borne the brunt of restrictions over the last six months. Small businesses that have spent thousands on safety measures for their premises, and made every effort to follow existing guidelines, will now be told to close. Any further restrictions placed on them should be evidence-led – transparency is a must.

“The tier system will only work if the funding for business support and guidance to accompany it is sufficient, crystal clear and timely. Government at all levels must ensure that the critical measures announced on Friday are easily accessible from day one. The additional £1 billion to bolster the Towns Fund announced today is encouraging to see. These must be seen as a starting point for the evolution of business support measures, not an endpoint, especially as we head into the crucial festive season.

“Far too many are still excluded from the Government’s efforts to help business owners – not least company directors and the newly self-employed. A rescue package for these groups is urgently needed.

“We’ve always said that the delivery of the world-beating test-and-trace system that we were promised months ago is central to getting our small business community firing on all cylinders again. The Government is right to extend greater funding and support to strengthen test-and-trace efforts at the local level, and business owners across the country will be looking forward to improvements on this front.

“Policymakers should now be looking at cross-cutting interventions to spur growth, start-ups and future job creation as our economy is changed for the long-term. Bringing down Employer National Insurance Contributions and lifting the business rates burden for more small firms would be good places to start.”

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