May 4, 2020 @ 10:07 by Richard Dawson
The North East England Chamber of Commerce has set out steps it thinks the Government should take to ensure the country’s economy recovers as quickly as possible after the COVID-19 crisis.
The Chamber has submitted analysis of existing Government measures, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), as well as a series of recommendations in light of its members’ views.
The analysis and recommendations formed part of a report sent to the Government’s Select Committee following its call for evidence on the response to COVID-19.
The Chamber suggest one answer to help the North East economy get on its feet would be to follow the SSI recovery model, which allowed redundant workers to get free re-training and upskilling.
Funding to encourage people to start their own business was successful following the SSI closure, with more than 270 new ventures created.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the Chamber, said: “It is extremely important that this Select Committee listens to the voice of North East business and what has worked to support our companies but also where help has fallen far short of what was intended.
“We cannot stress enough how urgent and imperative it is for our economy, for Government to take heed of our constructive comments and act on them swiftly.”
The Chamber report says that the Government’s next steps should include the extension of the furlough scheme and the provision of finance for self-employed people who are paid by dividends.
The need to support businesses with their cash flow once the lockdown is eased was also highlighted.
This is because more businesses fail at the start of an upturn than a downturn so banks’ lending criteria for businesses may need to be more flexible than has previously been the case.
The report also mentioned the importance of strong trading relationships with the UK’s nearest neighbours, as international travel is expected to be restricted for some time to come.