Latest Updates From Surrey Chambers CEO – 15th December 2021
15th December 2021
And so the pandemic continues to damage our economy
It was with great disappointment that we heard of all the new Covid restrictions that have needed to be put in place during the last week. Along with many others we have cancelled our Christmas meals and events. However, we have also written to the government on behalf of all businesses, an extract of which I thought I would share here.
“For several months, we have called on the UK Government to set out what support would be in place for business if Plan B measures were required this winter. Ideally, this would have been established in advance of any announcement to bolster firms’ confidence and ability to plan ahead. We would hope that the treasury will undertake their own assessment of the likely impact of the Plan B measures in England on particular locations and sectors. Our own assessment is that whilst these restrictions are more moderate in comparison to previous measures and businesses and consumers have proved to be adaptable, their economic impact will place downward pressure on consumer confidence. The new restrictions, and concerns over the Omicron variant, are likely to weigh significantly on the UK economy in Q4 2021 and early 2022 by triggering a significant increase in reluctance among consumers to socialise and spend. Consumer-focused services firms, such as retail and hospitality and those in their supply chains, are most exposed to the new measures because they come during the critical Christmas trading period when those firms rely on consumers’ willingness to interact and spend (and is often vital to sustaining their cashflow ahead of typically quieter months). Those businesses in city centres which rely on the footfall from people working in offices will also be hit hard by the new measures. We recommend some policy options the Government should urgently consider for supporting those firms, including reverting the VAT for hospitality and tourism back to its emergency rate of 5%, reinstating 100% business rates relief for retail and hospitality and making additional grant funding available. We urge you to give these your strongest consideration as firms already tell us of the cancellations and loss of revenue expected in the coming weeks. To ensure support remains commensurate to restrictions imposed, as has been the case for the majority of the pandemic, if tighter or longer-lasting restrictions are required (a move to Plan C) the government should also remain open to increasing grant funding and reinstating other support measures.”
We are keen to collate specific details on losses suffered by businesses and are open to receiving business stories from around the County.
This will probably be the last column before Christmas so all of us at Surrey Chambers would like to wish every one of you a jolly and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous and interactive new year.