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The British Chamber of Commerce has said that almost half of firms will furlough most of their staff next week.

Their new tracker, that will serve as a barometer of business’ response to the government’s measures and changes to business’ working practices over the next few months will also track how quickly new government interventions, introduced to deal with the real-world impact of this crisis, are getting to the businesses at the front line.

The first set of polling was conducted from 25-27 March with responses from over 600 businesses. It revealed that following the government’s pledge to cover 80 per cent of a furloughed employee’s salary up to £2,500 a month, 32 per cent of businesses said that they were planning to furlough between 75 to 100 per cent of their workforce over the next week.

Results revealed that of most concern is the impact on business’s cash flow, an important indicator of overall economic health. 18 per cent reported less than a month’s worth of cash in reserve, while 44 per cent reported only 1 to 3 months’ worth of cash in reserve. Only 6 per cent of respondents reported over 12 months’ worth of cash in reserve.

Responding to the tracker results, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said:

“The Coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on business and economic activity across the UK.

“While businesses have welcomed the unprecedented size and scope of the government support packages, our findings highlight the urgent need for that support to reach businesses on the ground as soon as possible. The majority of firms cannot wait weeks or months for help to arrive.

“There’s no escaping the scale of the challenge UK businesses are facing, yet many are already finding ways to contribute to the national effort to tackle coronavirus.Chambers and their members are working together to play their part, including gathering unused PPE equipment from local businesses and delivering them to the NHS. I’ve no doubt we will see further examples of resilience and innovation – the hallmarks of the UK business community – in the coming weeks and months.”

 

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