COVID-19: 66% of businesses have furloughed staff

New data revealed on Wednesday that 66% of businesses have furloughed a proportion of their staff under the British government’s coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

As the illness continues to spread, many are struggling to overcome the financial challenges caused by the measures to contain the virus.

Indeed, stricter lockdown measures in the UK have caused many non-essential shops to close, such as restaurants, pubs and bars.

Data from the British Chambers of Commerce’s Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker shows that 31% of businesses have furloughed between 75 to 100% of their workforce.

Meanwhile, very few firms have been able to successfully access government support schemes.

Indeed, the British Chambers of Commerce said that only 2% have been able to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme this week, whilst 9% of survey respondents were unsuccessful.

For those who were unsuccessful, slow or no response from lenders has been cited as the main reason.

Businesses on the frontline need cash to start flowing from support schemes fast.With April’s payday coming up, we are fast approaching a crunch point, and both the furlough scheme and CBILS facilities need to be accelerated,” British Chambers of Commerce Director General Dr Adam Marshall said in a statement.

“While we’ve seen a high number of firms furloughing staff in anticipation of the Job Retention Scheme coming online, it is still unclear whether they will start receiving funds before their payroll date, which could exacerbate the cash crisis many businesses are facing.”

It is essential that the Job Retention Scheme makes payments to businesses as soon as possible. Any delay could mean more livelihoods under threat, more business failures, and more hardship in our communities.”

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