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BCC welcomes furlough extension but says more needs to be done to help firms access grants

The Chancellor has announced the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) until the end of March, but British Chambers of Commerce Director General, Dr Adam Marshall, said more still needed to be done to help businesses which had so far failed to receive any additional grant support.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Government would continue to pay 80% of wages until the end of March up to £2,500 a month, with employers being asked to pay National Insurance and pensions contributions for their staff during November.

Dr Marshall said: “A further extension of the furlough scheme and more generous grants for the self-employed are important steps in protecting jobs and providing certainty for our business communities beyond the immediate shock of a four-week lockdown. 

“These changes give businesses significant reassurance over an uncertain winter, but many will understandably still wish for the government to give a clearer view of the road ahead. Government must set out longer-term measures over the next 12 months to give firms greater certainty and confidence to plan proactively, rather than to react to changes in support from week to week.

“As well as support on jobs, reduced demand will impact firms’ cashflow across the country, not just those placed under the toughest restrictions. More generous grants will be required if those businesses are to weather a difficult winter ahead. 

“Despite the Chancellor’s announcement, there are still many businesses and individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been unable to access any Government support since the start of the pandemic and will require support if we are to avoid significant increases in unemployment and business failures.

“Ultimately, there can be no substitute for a fully functioning economy. Fundamentally, that means the Government using the time afforded to them through another lockdown to significantly improve the Test, Track and Isolate system, which remains key to keeping the economy open.”

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