Latest news from Surrey Chambers CEO 13th August 2020

13th August 2020

How the economy is doing

Over the last 2 weeks we have received the formal economic analysis around the economy and employment, which unsurprisingly does not paint a great picture. Whilst these figures are national our own Surrey based surveys completely concur with the emerging picture. The UK suffered an historic contraction of 20.4% in GDP (Gross domestic Product or Economic activity) in the second quarter of 2020 (April to June) as the coronavirus closed large parts of the economy. With restrictions steadily easing, the second quarter is likely to prove to be the lowest point for the UK economy. However, the prospect of a swift ‘V-shaped’ recovery remains remote as the recent gains in output may fade over the coming months as the economic damage caused by the pandemic increasingly weighs on activity, particularly as the government support measures wind down. Against this backdrop, we continue to lobby for bold action to immediately inject confidence back into the UK economy. This could include supporting businesses to retain staff through a cut in employer national insurance contributions and targeted support to help businesses placed under local lockdowns. While the headline data appears to lag behind the reality on the ground, the reduction of nearly three quarters of a million in the number of employees is further evidence of the damage being done to the UK labour market by the Coronavirus pandemic. The furlough scheme has been successful in preserving millions of jobs, with 28% of jobs in Surrey placed on the scheme. However, with firms continuing to face a perfect storm of increased costs, reduced demand, and diminished cash reserves, unemployment is likely to surge as the government support schemes wind down, unless action is taken. The fact that so many people have been furloughed has also magnified the reduction in GDP.

No stopping the Chambers team

There is no stopping the Chamber team as we continue to deliver 2 or 3 webinars a week, keeping Surrey businesses up-to-date on support and information available. We are planning our Presidents awards at the Hilton Hotel Cobham, which will celebrate some of the heroes during the pandemic as well as a Christmas lunch at Brooklands Hotel. We hope that these events will be “live” but will be ready to react to changes in government advice!

Supporting Young People

Young people account for one of the groups of people significantly affected by the current situation so the government has come out with a number of initiatives to support them, including grants to businesses taking on apprentices and the Kickstart scheme funding 6 months placements for certain young people. We are keen at the Chamber to feedback to government the reaction to these different initiatives and will be presenting the schemes in an interactive webinar on the 8th September. All are welcome

Preparing for January 2021

We continue to be concerned that the 1st January is coming towards us at great speed and many importers and exporters are still not prepared. One of Surrey’s MPs, The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove MP,  has written a letter to all businesses moving goods between the United Kingdom and the European Union and between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, urging them to contact their local chamber of commerce for guidance and we are providing webinars and training to support them.

Surrey Chambers of Commerce can be reached on 01483 735540,, @surreychambers

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